Category Archives: Christian family

Good Sam got blessed 3 years later by the very person he helped

After dropping his family off at church, Chris Wright circled back to pick up a lady walking down the side of the road with a gas can that he had seen on his way to Sunday morning service.

“She was down on her luck,” Chris said on the Today Show. “She had only $ 5 in a purse and was worried about feeding her child. I filled her gas can and drove the woman back to her car. As I started to leave, I felt a nudge to give her what I had in my wallet $40.”

The act of kindness toward TunDe Hector came at her neediest moment, and tears welled up in her eyes.

Three years later, Chris’s mom suffered a life-threatening disease and was hospitalized. After days, she was released but needed a nurse’s aide to monitor her at home.

The nurse’s aide turned out to be the same woman he helped at the side of the road – TunDe. At first, Chris didn’t recognize her and TunDe didn’t recognize Chris because the day he popped by he was wearing sweatpants and a cap on backwards.

But they did get to talking, and TunDe found out that Chris attended Cornerstone Church in Athens, Georgia. That’s when she brightened and recounted the story of how “a young man” from that church had performed an act of kindness to her three years earlier.

“My jaw dropped,” Chris says.” I couldn’t believe it. I saw myself three years earlier being tugged to help a stranger.” Read the rest: What it means to be Christian?

She called it her ‘revenge body’

Vivian Herrera worked out intensely. She wanted her ex to feel sorry for cheating on her. She called the results her “revenge body.”

She uploaded 10,000 sexy shots to Instagram, attended raves and did drugs every other weekend when her ex had custody of their baby. She also fought with him every chance she could.

Vivian didn’t really know God through her church upbringing. By 18, she picked up on the “law of attraction,” the New Age idea that positive thoughts bring positive results, and she was making good money as a saleswoman at LA Fitness in La Habra, CA.

“I was attracting all this stuff, but I was still empty,” she says on her Faith with Vivian channel.

As she grew more self-centered in the quest for money and adulation from boys, she lost all her friends from high school. “All I cared about was money and working out,” she admits. “They wanted nothing to do with me because I was so selfish.”

She fell in love, moved in with her boyfriend and had a child by him, but when he cheated on her, she reacted with volcanic anger.

“I got so mad guys. I went to his job, and I keyed his car,” she admits. “I threw all his stuff. I cursed him. I told him he deserves to go to hell.”

The purpose of her life was to make him regret his infidelity. She trained hard to get a sexy body for a bikini competition that would make him eat his heart out.

“I was getting my revenge body,” she says.

In her headlong plunge into sin she slept around, did drugs, and traveled to Las Vegas as often as possible to party. Instead of worrying about her baby daughter, she danced the night away at raves whenever her ex had their daughter.

“I was literally doing anything to numb the pain,” she says. “Living for money, weed, alcohol partying, concerts, it was pretty empty. My life really had no meaning at this point. I was literally just trying to forget the pain that I was in. I knew what I was doing was wrong.”

She had started going to church, but instead of “leaning in” on God in her time of crisis, she walked away from Him.

The rampage was unstoppable, until Covid struck. Read the rest: Covid saved reckless girl hellbent on revenge.

Santa Dave Ramsey

Add to Dave Ramsey’s credentials of Christian financial guru, best-selling author, radio cohost and television show presenter, a new title: Santa Claus.

That’s right, because Christendom’s Apostle of Assets just paid off $10 million of debt of thousands of random strangers just in time for Christmas.

By melding secular financial planning principles with Biblical concepts of stewardship, the Tennessee resident amassed a huge following after nearly three decades of counseling church members to get out of debt and save for retirement. He is famous for 10 books and “The Dave Ramsey Show” on 500 local radio stations heard by more than 14 million across the nation.

That was not enough for Dave. Apparently, he aspired to become Saint Nick also.

In December, his Ramsey Solutions bought $10 million worth of debt from two private debt collectors representing medical and car bills and canceled it. His employees (they’re not elves though) have been working feverishly to call and notify the 8,000 individuals involved that they no longer owe any money.

Merry Christmas!

“I always tell my team that we are blessed for one reason, and that is so we can be a blessing to others,” he told the Christian Post. “Why the heck would anyone scoop up $10 million worth of debt and pay it off just like that? Well, the answer is simple: to show the love of Jesus Christ. You see, this whole completely forgiving a debt thing has been done before — by Him. No other gift could compare to that one, but we felt this was one small way we could continue to pass on that love.”

Recently Ramsey ran his Santa sleigh into a bit of controversy when at one of his seminars he encouraged attendants to not wear masks during the time of Covid. The media howled and portrayed him as a holiday villain.

But his latest un-Scrooge-like debt cancellation will undoubtedly improve his public relations image.

Read the rest: Dave Ramsey pays off debt.

Brian Birdwell’s flesh melted off after the jet struck the Pentagon

Christ and a Coke saved Brian Birdwell’s life.

Just moments before a terrorist-hijacked American Airlines plane slammed into the Pentagon where he worked, he had stepped away from his office – the precise impact zone — to use the bathroom because of an early morning Coke that filled his bladder.

“When you are 15 to 20 yards from an 80-ton jet coming through the building at 530 miles an hour with 3,000 gallons of jet fuel and you live to tell about it, it’s not because the United States Army made me the toughest guy in that building but because the toughest guy who ever walked this Earth 2000 years ago sits at the right hand of the Father had something else in mind.”

He was seven steps into returning from the bathroom when Flight 77 impacted the Pentagon at a 45 degree angle, the third of four coordinated terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The first two leveled the World Trade Center twin towers in New York. A fourth attack planned for the White House or the Capitol building was thwarted due to delays at takeoff. As passengers became aware of what was happening, they attacked and overpowered their hijackers, saving the White House; the plane crashed in a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

402136 05: Lt. Col Brian Birdwell who was injured at the Pentagon on September 11, attends a ceremony for the six month anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, March 11, 2002 at the White House, in Washington, DC. Ceremonies were held at the White House and the World Trade Center disaster site in remembrance of the victims of the attacks. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

“I was thrown around, tossed around inside like a rag doll, set ablaze,” Brian remembers on an I am Second video. “The black putrid smoke that I’m breathing in, the aerosolized jet fuel that I’m breathing in, the temperature of which is somewhere between 300 and 350 degrees.

“You could see the flesh hanging off my arms. My eyes are already beginning to swell closed. The front of my shirt is still intact. My access badge is melted by still hanging covered the black soot of scorched blood. The flame was consuming me and I expected to pass.”

Brian had no escape. He didn’t know which route to take out of the hallways he was intimately familiar with.

“I did what I was trained in the military to never do, which is to surrender,” he says. “I crossed over that line of the desire to live and the acceptance of my death recognizing that this was how the Lord was going to call me home.

“Jesus, I’m coming to see ya’,” he screamed loudly.

But as he lay expecting his spirit to leave his body and be welcomed into Heaven, he didn’t die. Read the rest: how Brian Birdwell survived 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

New Mexico cop adopts pregnant drug addict’s daughter

Never mind that Ryan Holets put aside his dream of being a missionary pilot to help save souls.

He got side-tracked by the Albuquerque police department, which he joined in 2011 as a step towards his goal. He got stuck being a cop.

“People like to think that the people who need help are the people over there,” he says on a True Crime Daily video. “They never stop and look around and say, ‘The people here need help.’”

When he approached a mother and dad shooting up heroin in September 2017 outside a convenience store, he noticed she was eight months pregnant.

His heart was torn. Babies born from drug-abusing mothers suffer birth defects and may be addicted outside the womb.

But one question bothered him most of all: How would the mother take care of the child?

“Are you pregnant?” he asked her, as recorded on his body camera video. “Why are going to be doing that stuff? It’s going to ruin your baby. You’re going to kill your baby.”

His admonishment brought Crystal Champ to heaving sobs.

“What do you think is going to happen to your baby after it’s born?” he asked.

“It’s going up for adoption,” she responded through tears.

That’s when the compassion of Jesus took over.

Instantly, Ryan realized what he would do. He would offer to adopt the child. She didn’t have anyone else lined up.

So instead of arresting her and hauling her off to jail, he pulled a picture of his wife and four other kids out and began talking to her tenderly. He began to win her confidence.

“I know my wife,” he told her right then and there. “I know she’ll say yes. We are willing to adopt your baby if that’s what you need.”

For Crystal, it seemed too good to be true. She agreed to meet Officer Ryan and his wife the next day.

Ryan had to prep Rebecca.

“Hey honey. I just have to let you know. I found this woman today. She was shooting up heroin, she’s pregnant and I offered to adopt the baby. I just want to let you know.”

They had already discussed adopting or becoming foster parents one day. But their youngest, Abigail, was 10 months old, and the rest of the kids were under five.

Notwithstanding, Rebecca wasn’t taken aback by the suddenness.

“Ok, let’s do this,” she responded promptly.

For her part, Crystal had searched Officer Ryan’s eyes on the day of the confrontation and lodged trust in him.

After dinner with Crystal and her partner, Tom, Ryan and Rebecca put the couple up in a hotel and provided for their needs. The baby came five weeks early. She had meth and heroin in her system and remained in the hospital for two weeks while going through withdrawals. Ryan and Rebecca took turns being with the baby.

As Ryan prayed for her and sang to her, the name of the baby came to him: Hope.

Rebecca readily assented. They both had so much hope for the child.

Ryan’s extraordinary measure flabbergasted his boss.

“This is an act that’s beyond anything I’d ever seen, and I’ll, probably never see it again,” says Sgt. Jim Edison. “I couldn’t believe it. I never met anyone so unselfish. I thought my job was to teach him, to make sure he goes home safe and makes mom proud. But here he was teaching me.”

The baby hasn’t had any complications since leaving the hospital, and the fifth child fits right in with her siblings.

Meanwhile, the Christian couple helped the birth parents also. Crystal enrolled in a rehab to straighten out her life. At the time of the video, they were sober and preparing to be productive members of society.

“We believe that everyone is redeemable,” Rebecca says. “Everyone is lost to some extent.”

The sergeant recommended him for a police department prize for excellent service to the community. When his letter was read to the all the cops in a staff meeting, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

President Trump caught wind of the extraordinary service Read the rest: Cop adopts pregnant drug addicts daughter

Human trafficking victim got out alive of ‘the game’

No matter how rigorously Sariah Hastings scrubbed her body in the shower, she couldn’t rid herself of the vestige of filthy men.

“I could never get rid of the smell of whatever man,” she says on a 700 Club video. “I didn’t even know these men’s names.”

The pimps told her the only way out of “the game” was death or jail but eventually she discovered another exit door when a crisis pregnancy center counselor led her through a prayer of salvation.

Sariah was molested by a relative when she was only 4. She didn’t know where to turn or who to tell because pretty much everyone in her family was involved in abuse and perversion, she says.

“There was no purpose of me reaching out and saying there’s something wrong with this or help me or get me out of this because it was so normal,” she says.

When she was 12, she was gang-raped at a party. Sex became something she plied in a quixotic search for love. Instead of genuine affection, however, she felt rejection.

“I was then known in my whole city as the slut, the hoe, the girl that you could take to the bathroom and do whatever with and she’ll be fine with it,” Sariah says.

At age 18, she got recruited by a pimp. She walked the streets and the trucker parking lots negotiating prices. One night, she failed to meet her quota and her pimp threatened to kill her.

She ran away and found another pimp who got her addicted to cocaine and crystal meth. Her lifestyle bred self-repugnance which led to cutting herself and burning her skin. The attempt at cleanliness in the shower was in vain since it was her soul that felt stained.

“It got to the extreme, a point where i just started trying to commit suicide,” Sariah remembers.

She was sold from pimp to pimp to pimp. During 17 years of prostitution, she traversed 33 states

Then she got pregnant with a second child. Her pimp told her to give the baby away to family. Instead she ran away.

“This time it would be different,” she says. “I knew at that moment that something had to change and that I couldn’t continue doing the same thing.” Read the rest: Sariah Hastings escapes human trafficking

Does God still heal today?

At 82, Paul Cadder, was still an avid snowmobile-rider and a gospel musician. But when he started to lose his vision to a cataract it threatened his vigorous lifestyle.

“Lord if I’m going to keep doing this kind of singing and so forth, I’m going to have to have a change in my eyesight,” he says on a 700 Club video. He was worried he would not be able to continue to lead worship at his local church.

Paul had always been an active man. “I had toys for years,” he says. In the 1960s, he put out three gospel albums with a quartet, with whom he traveled across America ministering. He was a natural worship leader at church.

But with the film covering his eye lens, he couldn’t see the music page from which he directed the choir. The encroaching symptoms of old age in 2018 left him dispirited.

“I accepted it as getting old,” he says. “But when I was leading worship in church, i couldn’t see the music real well. I was kind of frustrated and I thought I’d tell our church, ‘I might not be able to keep doing this.’”

On Jan. 4, 2019, while watching Christian TV with his wife, Yvonne, the speaker prophesied: “It’s almost like a thin film that you can’t see through very clearly. God is just removing that right now. Now your vision’s going to be restored to normal.”

Paul was startled. The person described his condition exactly. “That was for me,” he thought. Read the rest: does God still heal today?

Loss of fingertip didn’t stop Christian pianist

In his hurry to finish chores before organ practice, 13-year-old Greg McKenzie reached down to fix the lawnmower’s chain without turning the machine off, and his right index finger got caught and fingertip cut off.

“My sister was screaming. My mom thought my whole hand got chopped off,” he says.

In the long term, the accident didn’t impede his musical aspirations. Today, Greg, 58, is a professional musician in Japan. In the short term, he learned to see the bright side of life and apply his Christian faith.

“That was the beginning of a new journey, meaning my spiritual faith. I was kind of depressed as a 13-year-old. Why did this happen to me?” he told God Reports. “To make a long story short, I started talking to other patients. Some of them had missing limbs. Here I’m thinking of how bad I have it, and these people have it twice as bad. I went out of that doctor’s office thinking ‘I’m very blessed. I’m very grateful.’”

Greg McKenzie grew up in Trenton, New Jersey, in a family that never missed a Sunday service.

“Most of our ancestral background comes from spirituality,” he says. “That’s how we keep moving forward in hard times.”

With sheer determination, he pressed through the year-long setback of his missing fingertip to pursue music. He opted to not have the fingertip sewn back on because, as a pianist, he needed full sensitivity. He compensated when it was sore, as musicians often do.

“I was determined to play,” he says. “For at least one year, I couldn’t even use that finger.”

But by the time he entered conservatory, he was at full capacity with the same technique as other students. He graduated and began taking jobs.

The interminable search for jobs led him in 2003 to Japan where the Hyatt International paid him to put together a New York-style jazz and Latin jazz band. Japan paid well, and he paid off his outstanding Sally Mae debt. Read the rest: Christian pianist who lost fingertip

A Hindu’s vision of Jesus and Noah led her to Christ

Being a staunch Hindu led Mohini Christina to Christ.

When her marriage began to unravel, she searched for answers from the gods, as her parents had taught. Finding none in Hinduism, she was led by a dream to Christianity, where she found love, salvation and rescue for her marriage.

“My family is very, very god-fearing family, especially my parents’ family, so that really helped me get closer to Christ,” she says on a Songs on Fire video. “When I did not find the answer (in Hinduism) and all my questions just bounced back on me, I started searching for the true God,”

Both Mahalakshmi Srinivasan’s parents hailed from high-ranking Brahmin priestly families in Southern India, so religion was a centerpiece to everything. Mohini (which is the name she uses now) geared up from an early age to be a gynecologist but got sidetracked into Bollywood acting when she was discovered doing her hobby of Hindu classical Bharatnatyam dance.

Her marriage wasn’t completely arranged, as it is for many Indians. She and Bharath Krishna began to fall in love, so their parents agreed to arrange their wedding in 1999. That’s when the problems started.

From the engagement onward, Mohini fell into unexplainable bouts of depression and loneliness, suffered nightmares and developed cervical spondylitis.

It turns out that another woman had been interested in Bharath, and when he got engaged to Mohini, she resorted to black magic from the Hindu witches in Kerala, India, Mohini says. But they didn’t find that out until five years later after she aborted a baby because of the cervical spondylitis and their marriage teetered on the verge of divorce.

“She was greatly disappointed and got such a malaise in her heart. I don’t blame her at all,” Mohini says. “But she evolved into something which cannot be seen or heard, or it can only be felt. She resolved into doing something in the occult. She resolved in doing this black magic thing.”

Hindu astrologers counseled Mohini to counteract the spells with certain rituals, but she thought among the vast pantheon of Hindu gods one should be powerful enough to stop it without a lot of hoopla.

“If there is a god, let that god save me,” she says. “That was the next step I took towards Christ. He placed everything in my pathway.”

That’s when Jesus visited her a dream.

“I was standing on a small piece of land with water to my right or left. I was completely marooned,” she says. Read the rest: Hindu gets a vision of Jesus.

Wannabe terrorist turned to Jesus

The reason why so many Saudis fill the ranks and leadership of terrorist organizations today is because teachers and preachers in Saudi Arabia praised the “holy war” of Muslims against non-Muslims in Afghanistan in the 1980s, says a convert to Christianity.

“A whole generation was brought up this way and taught to think this way,” says Nasser al’Qahtan. “Sadly the world is reaping the fruit for what we were taught when we were young.”

Nasser, who was born and raised on the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, longed to die for Allah by waging jihad, and thus improving his chances of making it into Paradise. But along the way he converted to Christ and now exposes the diabolical beginnings of today’s world upheaval.

Nasser’s parents were opposed to the idea of their 12-year-old going to Pakistan for training and being smuggled into Afghanistan to fight the Russians, but many of his older friends did join jihad.

“God had other plans for me,” he says on a Your Living Manna video.

In the summer of 1990, Nasser plotted to run away and join jihad, but Iraq’s Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. At the time, he was actually in the United States with his mother visiting relatives and the ensuing world chaos prevented him from leaving “this evil nation” of America.

Nasser hunkered down for the long haul, playing the role of the religious police with his younger siblings to make sure they still prayed and read the Koran. He didn’t want them to come under Satanic influences in America. Eventually, he worried about himself and eyed with suspicion the Americans around him.

“What was I going to do? I was surrounded by infidels. You either make a war against them or you try to bring them into Islam another way,” he says. “I thought Allah brought me here to evangelize them.”

Nasser’s English was very good and he thought his Islamic apologetics weren’t bad either.

“I began to tell everybody about Islam, my fellow students, my teachers, my neighbors, everybody I came into contact with,” he says. “I started to see some fruit. I started to see regular American people abandoning their prior beliefs and becoming Muslims. Some of them grew up in the church and they renounced Jesus. I thought I was fantastic.”

As he learned about American culture, he eventually perceived that born-again Christians were different than the rest of Americans (who he wrongly assumed to all be Christians), and he began to target them because he figured it would be easy for them to switch since they already lived clean lives.

One of those loving and clean-living Christians was a woman with whom Nasser fell in love.

“That was my undoing,” he admits.

Only after marrying Daisy did he begin to correct her beliefs about Jesus. She should no longer idolize Jesus, who was nothing more than just another of Allah’s prophets, he said. Mohammad was the main guy.

The pressure he put on her grew in time and caused great strain on their marriage, and even some Christian friends counseled her to divorce for being “unequally yoked,” a mistake she had made while being a nominal Christian.

But Daisy, pressured to evaluate her childhood faith, wound up affirming her relationship with Christ. Encouraged by an aunt who had been a missionary for decades in Brazil, she not only prayed for her husband but mobilized thousands of Christians in mega churches in North Texas to pray.

Those prayers began to take effect. Outwardly, her husband appeared secure in his beliefs, but inwardly he was struggling. He knew his sins were too great and the mountain of good works and prayers needed to offset them too much. He began to ponder again the easiest and most and most assured path to Paradise — jihad.

Finally, his wife ventured to invite him to church, which, out of curiosity, he accepted. His consciousness of his sin was so great that he concluded, “If I’m going to go to Hell, I might as well find out what they do in church.”

“I thought it was the most Satanic thing I had ever seen,” he says. “But I was so drawn to keep coming back by the love I felt there. Eventually he broke down and asked God for the truth.

“Immediately I had a vision. Everything before me was wiped away and I was transported to this rocky hill, looking down at this man who was so brutally beaten to the point of being unrecognizable,” he says. “He was being nailed to a cross. I knew this was Jesus.

“I watched as the cross was lifted up and He’s hanging there bleeding and struggling for breath. I’m looking Him in the eyes. He’s looking at me and through me. He sees all of my junk, the hidden things in my life. I feel this wave of shame.

“But he’s not looking at me with disgust, which is what I expected. He’s looking at me with this fierce love. As He’s fighting for every breath on the cross, He’s fighting with every breath for me.”

The darkness from all humanity was put on Him on the cross.

“The darkness wasn’t overcoming Him. He was overcoming it.”

Then Jesus said, “It is finished.”

“The reason I did this is that you and all the people that were meant to be my children were snatched away from Me, and you sold yourselves to other powers. To buy you back, this was the cost. This was the price that I paid for you Nasser.”

The vision disappeared. Nasser hadn’t heard the sermon. Read the rest: Saudi terrorist turned to Jesus.

Freed from stress, inferiority complex

Coming from a poor family with a mother who was totally illiterate, Parameswari Arun struggled with an inferiority complex, comparing herself to other students in terms of talent, intellect or family background. Frequently, she cried herself to sleep.

She worried about her studies and whether she would ever attain an advanced degree. “Will I get a job? Will I be able to look after myself or my poor parents?” Parameswari says on a Your Living Manna video. “So many fears came and crowded my mind and put me down every night.”

Perplexed and distraught, the native of Pannaipuram village in Tamilnadu District of India spied two fellow college girls next door in the dorms who didn’t appear to be staggering under the crush of stress.

“They always used to look confident, joyful enjoying their life,” Parameswari says. “They were good girls in terms of their character and that caused me to have a type of curiosity, to go and find out how come.”

Still, she was shy.

“One day after attending my physics class, I was rebuked by my teacher,” she says. “I ran to my room to sit and cry alone, but my room was locked.”

So she went to her neighbors’ room. While there, she spied a Bible. She had never seen a Bible before.

“There was one word written underlined by red ink. God is love. That word came and pierced my heart saying that there is someone to love me and to take care of me,” she says. “But I couldn’t understand the full meaning when I was pondering over it.”

Parameswari asked her. “What do you mean by God is love?”

“God loves everyone in the world and He came in the form of his Son Jesus Christ to carry the punishment because of his love,” the friend responded. “He doesn’t want to see anyone going to hell because of the punishment of the sins that we do on earth. So he died on the cross and took away every punishment and curse and everything on him and freed every human being. Whoever believes in His name can enter into eternal life”

The friend explained that Christ’s blood covered everyone’s sins.

Parameswari, who was studying the biological and chemical sciences, couldn’t grasp this idea.

“The body contains a maximum six liters of blood,” she argued. “How can it wash the sins of the whole world?”

Parameswari rushed out of the room, rejecting the notion.

Notwithstanding, she continued to contemplate the Bible.

Borrowing the mysterious book, she read further.

“That book told me who I am, who is my Creator. The book told me that I am born to live. The book told me I will be on top, never at the bottom. The book told me that I’m chosen by God. The book told me that I am the beloved of the Lord. The book told me that I’m a child with talent given by God.

“The book told me that I am the aroma of my Creator. The book told me that I am the ambassador for God. The book called me as a holy child. The book called me as a holy citizen. Read the rest: Relief from stress, Indian student finds peace in God.

Only deaf church in West Africa led by deaf missionaries

As a deaf missionary in Africa, Elizabeth Smith blows people’s minds — especially the Muslims who interact with her in the nation of The Gambia.

“When we speak to many hearing Muslims, they become curious when we praise God for making us deaf. They normally are very sympathetic because they believe we are full of sin and that’s why God made us deaf,” she wrote in an email interview with God Reports.

“It’s fun sometimes to see what God does in people’s lives when they see things from a different perspective,” based on a conception of Islam that’s very different from Christianity, Elizabeth notes. Prolific hymnist Fanny Crosby thanked God she was blind; apparently, she felt the loss of one sense sharpened her hearing and musicality.

Both deaf, Elizabeth, 34, and her husband, Josiah, 36, are establishing a church for the deaf. It’s only one of its kind not only in The Gambia but for many of the neighboring West African nations. Their missionary adventure started in February of 2017.

Their church, on the outskirts of the capital city of Banjul is a place of refuge for Gambians who need love and acceptance. “We get a lot of curious visitors in the church. Some have questions of who God is,” she says. “Some just feel welcomed, regardless if they are Muslim or not.”

For Elizabeth and Josiah, not hearing is not an insurmountable barrier to be missionaries. It presents challenges that simply belong to a long list facing anyone adjusting to a new country and culture.

“Living abroad is not for everyone. It stretches you, and takes you apart in ways you never imagined,” she says. “Being deaf definitely presents a lot of challenges. There are times when we need to communicate and many cannot read or write English.”

She tries not to voice words in English and mostly uses writing on paper or hand gestures. By and large, people are open to this sort of communication, though many are illiterate. The couple uses the illustrated Action Bible to show biblical stories and truths.

“But our main focus is the deaf community,” she says.

Elizabeth and Josiah were both raised in Arizona, but they didn’t meet in Arizona. They met Washington DC, where both worked for Youth With a Mission, and married in 2015. (From 2011-13, Elizabeth was an independent missionary with the Baptist Ministry at Gallaudet University, an institution of higher learning specially geared for deaf students.)

Soon, they felt God call them to Africa. They didn’t know where and sought in the Lord in prayer. Elizabeth got a vision of a machete shape and felt moved to look at a map of Africa. Lo and behold, the sliver-nation of The Gambia, which hugs the same named river, came into focus.

Josiah volunteered teaching gym classes at a local deaf school, while Elizabeth volunteered teaching English. A former British colony, The Gambia adopted English as its official language, but many speak only tribal languages such as Wolof or Mandinka.

Just as English differs from another language, so does sign language differ from country to country. There is no universal sign language. The American version is called American Sign Language. So Elizabeth and Josiah are gaining fluency in the Gambian sign language. Read the rest: only deaf church in West Africa led by deaf missionaries.

Dying of AIDS, man comes back to Christ because of a family’s love

On the very night Jerry Arterburn accepted Jesus at a church camp, the 5-year-old was also molested by the pastor’s son.

“When that molestation occurred, it ignited something in him that he didn’t think other guys had to struggle with,” his brother Stephen says on a Pure Passion Media video. “It produced an uneasiness with relationships with women.”

Jerry died of AIDS on June 13, 1988, at a time when the epidemic was raging largely unchecked and medical science was trying to figure out how to tame it.

“When my brother and I moved to Laguna (Beach, California) at the same time, there was another person who moved to Laguna. He was identified as Patient 0,” Stephen says. “This was a flight attendant who flew around the world and slept with about 2,000 different people. He infected so many people in that town that the AIDS virus was extremely virulent in there. I watched business after business close because there was such a high per capita gay population there. They were dying right and left.”

Before Jerry’s death, Stephen began to formulate the best way to encourage his brother to come back to Christ.

“I loved him. But I knew that what he was doing was wrong,” he says. “I wasn’t trying to convince him that he was wrong. I just tried to find a way to have a relationship with him that I could love him with.”

There were three Arterburn boys who grew up with a mom who bitterly hid her father’s suicide and a dad who was “redneck, disconnected,” Stephen says. All three sons went prodigal from their otherwise “strong Christian household” in Texas.

Stephen — who now is an author, a radio host and the founder of New Life Ministries — thought he was the worst rebel of the lot because he forced his girlfriend (attending Bible college) to get an abortion.

Jerry, who loved design and became an architect, didn’t immediately show how he was getting off course.

Stephen describes his brother as “the moral one” who owned up to his mistake, while Stephen was actually the immoral one who had slept with many young women.

“I hadn’t slept with a man. I killed my own baby,” Stephen confesses.

Jerry was about to get married, but it was called off. Both had frequent fights. Still, no one really knew why the wedding was called off.

When Jerry, at age 26, was appointed to a city planning post in Easley, South Carolina, he met a man who took him to a gay bar. He had never had sex before, but that night, “my brother felt like he was at home,” Stephen says.

“He felt total acceptance, freedom — all this stuff that he had never known: all of this love, affection, connection,” Stephen says.

From then on, it was relationship after relationship. When Jerry and Stephen both, by chance, moved to Laguna Beach, they started reconnecting. Sometimes in their talks they would debate. One topic that came up was whether homosexuality was right or wrong.

Stephen, who had come back to the Lord by now, stuck to his guns — until he realized the reason why his brother was arguing the aberrant position. His brother was gay.

As soon as Stephen found out, the arguments were over. A new phase in their relationship started, one of reaching out to Jerry with love and acceptance, though not approval of his sin.

“I was able to develop a close relationship with him, and then he got sick. I’m so glad I did because he needed me. I’m so glad he felt safe with me, that I could be there with him when he needed a lot of help — just getting up and going to the bathroom. He lost 100 pounds. It was horrible. He looked like something out of a concentration camp.”

Devastated by the news that not only their son was gay but also had AIDS, the “redneck ” father visited Jerry in the hospital and said, “You’re coming home with us. We’re going to help you through this.”

The Southern Baptist Church of his parents, instead of ostracizing Jerry, were loving and inclusive. (The Southern Baptists were conservative on social acceptance at a time when much of America was unmoved by the AIDS crisis.)

“We loved him when he was (younger). We’re going to love him through this,” a deacon said, according to Stephen. “Here’s what we’re going to do: We’re going to go over to his house and we’re going to lay hands on him and pray for him to be healed… Whatever his insurance doesn’t cover for his treatment of AIDS, this church is going to pay for. Whenever his brothers want to come in and see him, we’ll pay their air fare.” Read the rest: How to treat LBGTQ family members if you’re Christian

Miss America Asya Branch leaned on Jesus when Dad was imprisoned

Not everything was beautiful in the new Miss America’s early life.

When Asya Branch was 10, her father was arrested at home for involvement with an armed robbery. Little Asya watched terrified from the car as her dad was hauled away.

“That day our lives changed forever,” Asya told the New York Daily News. “We had a beautiful home and a great life. When they found out that my father was in prison, people looked at us differently. That was a critical stage in my life and it ended up changing me. I felt this overwhelming shame.”

Three things ensued. Asya and her family lost their farm home as the bank foreclosed. She felt alone and abandoned. And she grew closer to Jesus.

“My father’s incarceration played an enormous role in my life and helped me develop characteristics I never imagined. It taught me responsibility at a young age and to count my blessings,” Asya said on Mississippi Pageant. “But most of all, it strengthened my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Asya was born the sixth of eight siblings to her parents, living in Booneville, Mississippi at the time. Before stepping into a wayward life, her dad was a retired military veteran. Her mom was a teacher’s assistant. She was a gregarious kid who spent her days entertaining family members. If no one was around, she would bury herself in a book.

Asked what one book she would take to a deserted island, she answered unequivocally: “My Bible, not only for the quality reading but for inspiration and guidance in the circumstances in which I would find myself.”

A self-described “daddy’s girl,” Aysa said there was no one to help her through the trying times of losing her dad to the prison system. Her father, she says, had tried to help a drifter by taking him in. But that young man had committed an armed robbery, and for trying to help a needy soul, her daddy paid a high price.

“There were no resources nor advocates available for me,” she says. “People don’t recognize the hardships I have faced in my life because I have learned to be strong through my circumstance, keep a smile on my face and lean upon the Lord.” (Asya is advocating for prison reform and even spoke to President Trump about it.)

“I struggled with my self-worth and closed myself off, praying for answers about why this happened,” she wrote in Guideposts. “Maybe God is teaching me to be independent and grateful, I thought.”

In desperation and loneliness one night, she cried out to Jesus and renewed her relationship. Read the rest: Asya Branch Miss America Christian

Model romanced by sly prince

When accosted by a stranger in New York City, Keisha Omilana politely declined to give out her phone number, but as she was about to board a train to head for a modeling audition, her women’s intuition took over.

“You know what? You’re not dating anybody,” she told herself. “And he was cute!”

Because of the risky decision to give a total stranger her number, Keisha today is a Nigerian princess – royalty!

That’s because the guy requesting her number was Prince Adekunle “Kunle” Adebayo Omilana from the Arugbabuwo ruling house in Nigeria.

But she didn’t know that until AFTER she said yes when he took a knee.

They dated for two years, and then he sprung the question. When she accepted, he explained that he was African royalty, with lots and lots of money.

Today, the Omilanas are strong Christians, and they’re using their money to finance church planting in Africa. Prince Adekunle is managing partner and chief executive officer of Wonderful Media, a European Christian television network which on Facebook identifies itself: “He is Life, His name is Wonderful and life is Wonderful.”

Nigerian royalty — like European royalty — exercises a symbolic role with little real power, but the Omilanas leverage a good example and preaching to the conscience of the nation to cement Christianity in Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy.

That’s significant because Nigeria stands to become a new center of gravity for worldwide Christianity. Nigeria has already begun sending missionaries into Europe in what many see as a paradigm shift for missions.

In the next 20 years, Nigeria is poised to become the fourth most populous country in the world — surpassing Russia. They’re on track to having the largest evangelical population in the world. Soon the majority of Christians worldwide are going to be non-white.

With 400,000 Nigerian immigrants in the U.S. with an average income level above white Americans, Nigeria can join hands with mission leaders on an equal footing to chart the future spread of the Gospel worldwide.

Don’t be surprised if the Omilanas sit on that board.

Keisha was born in Inglewood, a small city in the middle of the vast Los Angeles metropolis. Her birth town was awash with poverty and overrun with gang violence, but Keisha grew up safe and sound.

She moved to Chicago to study fashion but switched from designer to model. At first she timidly embarked on the career with Ford Models. But her striking beauty opened doors. She represented Pantene, L’Oreal, CoverGirl, Revlon, and Maybelline.

Keisha became the first African-American woman to be featured in three consecutive Pantene commercials, earning the moniker “The Pantene Girl”.

She appeared in the movie Zoolander and the television shows 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live.

Keisha was lost in New York City while looking for another audition when Prince Kunle discovered her.

He was in a meeting at the W Hotel when he saw her in a phone booth, trying to get the directions straight from her agent. Prince Kunle excused himself from the table and went out to see her. He waited 45 minutes for her to get off the phone, at which time he approached her.

“You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” he told her. “Would you do me the honor of having your number?” Read the rest: Christianity in Nigeria: Prince promotes Christianity with his wife Keisha

Banana cream pie, key to meeting wife

Frank Mesa put the gun in his mouth many times. Sometimes, he pointed it to his temple. But he could never pull the trigger.

“I hated life. I hated people. I was just bitter,” Frank says. “I used to argue a lot with my parents. I told my mom, ‘I hope you die.’ Two weeks later she became real ill and went to the hospital and within a week, she passed away.”

Frank, then 23, blamed himself. He had been taking care of both his parents, who were ill. He grew up in Apple Valley, California.

The family moved away from the gang violence in L.A. in 1978 at the time his dad retired. An only child, Frank was mischievous.

“As a kid, I remember being bullied a lot, getting picked on,” he recalls. “I was jumped by a number of older kids. They stole my brand new bike. This is where I started hating people.”

As he grew up, he fell in with the Heavy Metal crowd during middle school, groups like Ozzy Osbourne and Def Leopard.

“One of my favorite songs was from Pat Bennetar. It was ‘Hell is for Children,’” Frank says. “It was an addiction. It helped me to forget about issues, stress, peer pressure. I just wanted to be accepted.”

The first time he inhaled second-hand marijuana smoke, it gave him hallucinations for three days, so he stuck with alcohol.

“Almost every weekend, I would look for parties that I wasn’t invited to,” he says. “We would just get blasted. I would show up to work intoxicated.”

Naturally, his parents scolded him for this behavior. He argued over this. “This is my own life,” he responded. “My mother didn’t approve of anything I was doing. I brought home a girlfriend so she could meet her. My mom just called her a whore straight out.

“I got into an argument with her, and I said, ‘I hope you die,’” he remembers. “Before the month was over, she had passed away.”

After his mom fell into the coma and passed, Frank felt bad for what he had said. He could never apologize. He wondered what would become of himself.

“Is this life? Is that all there is?” he asked.

Frank had never been a church person. A few months later, somebody knocked on his door and explained the gospel to him.

“I had all kinds of questions about God at the time,” he says.

The church was full, and Frank picked a spot in the back row. When worship started lively praise, he freaked out. Read about how Frank Mesa met and married his wife because of banana cream pie.

First Deny. the war dog. Now Thomas Locke own faces death.

Thomas Locke, the Texas attorney who adopts retired military dogs, needs to be rescued himself.

The Christian Harley rider who can be seen with a cigar in his mouth and his wife on the back of the bike announced in August he’s battling cancer.

“I’m not scared at all, not even a little bit, not even nervous,” he says, shirt off showing a still-chiseled frame at 59 in a video uploaded to his Facebook account. “I have strong faith, so death has never scared me. It doesn’t even annoy me.”

The military veteran went viral on TikTok in May of this year when he had to put down his constant companion, Deny, a military dog that had been classified as “unadoptable” after eight years of hard service sniffing out bombs in Kuwait. Thomas found him for Christmas 2018 in the 21-acre ranch of Mission K9 which tries to finds homes for military assets.

The bond between man and dog challenged the notion of mere earthly affection. Often, Thomas would sleep with the German shepherd, who followed at his heals everywhere around the house. But when his back legs stopped working, Deny had to be put down, and Thomas carried out the painful task Texas style: after a last meal of brisket and sausage.

“I’m ready to turn in my man card,” Thomas said, holding back tears, as he fed Deny from a plate. “This wasn’t supposed to be a cry fest.”

This time, Thomas is NOT crying.

“Cancer affects babies, children and women. It’s a coward disease. I say ‘F you, cancer.’ I’m glad you came and picked on somebody your own size because I’m ready for you.” Read the rest: Animal rescue needs to be rescued.

Gay stripper found God, doesn’t let same-sex attraction define him

Egged on by friends in middle school, Samuel Perez felt same-sex attraction but he had been raised in a strict Christian household.

“Oh my gosh! I don’t want to go to hell!” he thought, after he “came out” to his mom, and she warned him. “I didn’t know what I was feeling, I didn’t know how to control it. I didn’t want to like men, I just did.”

It all started because the Cuban youngster didn’t fit in with boys. His friends were girls. When he finally got a masculine friend, he got excited and confused and started to think it was a romantic thing. Lesbian friends reinforced the confusion, urging him to plant his flag of gay identity.

“Am I gay?” he asked. “Do I like this boy? Is this who I really am?”

When he told his friend, he got rejected. This prompted him to fall into a dark depression

A war waged for his sexual identification, with his parents fighting for God’s way, and his friends pushing for the world’s. When he finally told his mom he didn’t want to “suppress” his same-sex attraction, she sent him to an ex-gay camp.

“This is such BS,” he thought at the camp. “These people are trying to not come to terms with themselves.”

The camp had no effect.

“The world was telling me to love myself, so i accepted I was gay and was always going to like men,” he says.

In high school, he was homeschooled. That only made things worse because he was cut off from all his friends. Lonely, he became addicted to his computer and cried every night.

“I used to go on virtual realities and pretend to be someone I wasn’t because I was so insecure with myself,” he remembers.

College was going to be his escape. He found his passion in acting and the arts and rekindled his love for music.

“I remember having this app where you could find men in your area and meet up with them,” he says. “I was addicted to the app. I was desperate for someone to love me”

Samuel met up with a guy and made him promise him that he wouldn’t leave if he gave himself to him. The man promised but left him the next day.

At this time, Samuel got really sick and was hospitalized and heartbroken. His depression worsened till he dropped out of acting school.

“For the first time I felt completely lost,” he says. “I had no aspirations, no relationships. I didn’t even know if I liked singing and acting anymore.”

Samuel found a new love, working out at the gym, and became a personal trainer.

Then he decided to finally move out of his parents’ place. “Mom and Dad, I’m moving to New York! ,” he told them one day. “So I moved to New York with their help, like the gracious loving parents they are, even though they knew it wasn’t the best thing for me. They knew I had to make it on my own.”

Samuel had no money and no friends, but he worked as a personal trainer. He started to train a drag queen, who encouraged him to gogo dance and entertain people.

During the day, he trained at the gym. At night he booked appointments left and right. Read the rest: Freedom from gay life.

George W. Bush struggled with alcoholism

George W. Bush will be remembered as the president who declared war on terror after the Twin Towers were blown up by Osama bin Laden’s airline-hijacking henchmen.

But a new PBS documentary reveals the early years in which the future 43rd president drank excessively and could only conquer alcoholism by turning to God, according to People magazine.

“He transitioned from a church-goer to a Christ-follower,” Bush’s childhood friend Charlie Younger says in American Experience. “He wanted to emulate the tenets and teachings of Jesus Christ, and he made a definite transformation there.”

It may seem difficult to believe that before ascending to the presidency, his life before age 40 was rocky.

After six years in the Texas Air National Guard and the U.S. Air Force Reserve, Bush leveraged his family’s influence and finances to launch Arbusto Energy in 1977, an oil and gas exploration firm.

But he felt immense pressure to make “a big strike” and began to stagger under repeated failures, which stood in contrast to his father, who became vice-president of the United States under Ronald Reagan in 1981.

“I’m all name and no money,” Bush said at the time, according to the New York Times. Hit by a fall in oil prices, Bush sold his energy exploration company to Harken Energy in 1986.

“I think his friends and family, when he was nearly 40 years old, were worried about what he was going to do with his life,” Michael Gerson, Bush’s former chief speechwriter, said. “He drank too much and he had very little direction.”

On his 40th birthday, the crisis came to a head.

“He woke up hung-over. He had overdone it the night before and he didn’t feel good. I think Laura (his wife) told him that he could’ve behaved better,” Younger says. “He just said, ‘I don’t need this in my life. It’s robbing me of my energy. It’s taking too much of my time.’”

At the suggestions of friends, Bush began to attend a community Bible study, a weekly session similar to a “scriptural boot camp.” He’d reportedly met with preacher Billy Graham during the previous year, who encouraged him to deepen his relationship with God. Read the rest: George W. Bush saved from alcohol.

Pastor with LBGT parents re-calibrates church’s message to increasingly worldly world

caleb katlenbachThe ugliest thing Caleb Kaltenbach saw through a childhood of being taken to gay pride marches and wild parties was…. Christians holding up signs saying “God hates you.”

“I don’t want to have anything to do with that,” he said at the time. But Caleb came to Christ in high school, became a pastor afterwards and started a church that doesn’t compromise on truth while still extending love to those with “messy” lives.

His incredible journey from Christian-hater to loving Christian is more than just one man’s testimony. It is a shining light on the path for the church re-calibrating its message, as the world grows more worldly, to wooing sinners instead of saying “Woe!” to sinners.

When Caleb was only two years old, both his mom and dad divorced and “came out of the closet at the same time,” he says on an Outreach video. “My whole life I was raised by two lesbians and a gay man.”

caleb katlenbach and wifeHis dad was professor of philosophy, law and rhetoric at the University of Missouri, Columbia, while his mom was a professor of English at the University of Missouri in Kansas City.

“My whole life I was raised in the gay and lesbian community,” he says. “My parents didn’t want to get baby sitters, so they basically took me to parties when I was 4, 6, 7 years old. I went to camp outs, clubs and gay pride parades.

“I hated Christians,” he remembers. “I didn’t want to have anything to do with Christians.”

At the end of a gay pride parade, he was met by Christians with placards that said “God hates you” and “Turn or burn.”

They were spraying water and urine on everybody.

Caleb, who was a young and impressionable 9 years old, turned to Mom and asked why they were doing this.

CTz9RlFUsAACsqX“Well, Caleb, they’re Christians,” she replied. “And Christians hate gay people. Christians don’t like people who are different from them.”

“I don’t want to have anything to do with that,” he replied.

His next memory was when he was a teen, accompanying Mom to her parties. His custom was to find a room to play video games, Duck Hunt or Kung Fu (in the days of primitive video games — Atari, etc).

Louis, a well-built 30-year-old, befriended him at these parties.

Years later at the doctor, Caleb saw Louis, who had was emaciated and had strange markings on his forehead. Caleb asked what was wrong.

“Caleb, I have AIDS, and I’m getting read to die,” Louis responded.

Visiting him “a shell of the man he used to be” in the hospital just days before Louis died, Caleb witnessed a “horrifying sight.” As Louis shivered uncontrollably cold under nine blankets, his family watched unfeelingly from across the room.

“Plastered against the wall with their big ol’ KJV bibles out and looking like they expected a firing squad to come at them” was the compassionless immediate family. When he asked for water, they made sure to give him some without touching him.

“Why are they acting like that?” he asked his mom.

“Well, Caleb, they’re Christians,” she responded. “And Christians hate gay people. Christians don’t like people who are different from them.”

“I don’t want to have anything to do with that,” Caleb said again. Read the rest: Pastor with LBGT parents re-calibrates church’s message to increasingly worldly world.

‘Ghost mode’ for street hood turned pastor/rapper

Thirteen-year-old Markell Taylor wanted to be just like his stepdad, who was a pimp, a rapper, a womanizer and a drunk.

“I idolized him,” Markell says. “People thought he was cool. My own father was not in the picture and my mom was in and out of prison. He was the one male figure in my life. He had money, so he would buy expensive cars and expensive clothes. He would buy them for me. You’re a little kid and you’re getting hooked up. I thought he had something going on.”

In response to this role modeling, Markell became a runner for a drug dealer. He dropped out of school. He used methamphetamines and he took advantage of girls. “I had all these insecurities because I was hurting and lonely and I didn’t know why I wasn’t worth it for my real dad to stick around,” he said. “But I put on a mask of confidence to get in girls’ pants.”

From middle school onward, Markell was the life of the party. He had the drugs, so he got it started.

But while he was admired for his swagger and brazenness, his future began to dim. He variously lived with his stepdad in Wendover, Nevada, his grandmother in Las Vegas — and homeless shelters. He was arrested for domestic violence against his mother and police were investigating crimes he had participated in.

“I was out of control,” he recalls. “One time I told my mom I was going to kill the guy who sold me some bad drugs. I wasn’t really going to do it, but I acted like it. She tried to take me to the police, but I jumped out of the car while she was driving.”

At age 14, his mom and stepdad wanted to escape their reputation at Wendover and move to Salt Lake City to get a fresh start in life. Markell didn’t last one day there without his arrest.

Again it was a case of domestic violence. He hit his mom with a pillow, he says, and she freaked out and called the cops. When the police handcuffed him, they asked if there was a gun. Markell stood up to show them his arm, but the police thought he was going to attempt a fight, so they tackled him again.

The cops hauled him off to jail.

“As soon as I got into the back of the patrol car, I started crying like a little baby,” Markell says. “Up until then, I had pretty much gotten away with everything I did.” Read the rest of Markell Taylor, street hood pastor rap artist.

He didn’t bother with ‘unknowables’ like God… until he turned 50

Paul ErnstPaul Ernst was a natural tinkerer who based his outlook on life on the material world that could be seen, quantified and studied.

“I liked knowing how things worked,” Paul says in a CBN video. “I wanted to drill down to the basis of something where it was, you know, like taking apart an alarm clock or later a motorcycle or a car engine.”

Attracted to sciences, he graduated from college with a degree in chemistry. He didn’t bother much with the notion of God because if he existed, he couldn’t be documented by scientific means.

“Even though I might think about where the universe came from, ‘Where there’s a God,’ ‘Is there life after death?’ I pushed those into unknowables.

Paul and Mary Ersnt“The picture I had of Christians is that since they weren’t in science, they were in another realm that was unknowable, and some of it actually looked kind of silly to me and I just wasn’t interested in that.”

He stayed the course of scientific atheism through his 40s, but when he turned 50, a nagging sense of his mortality began to irritate him.

“I had a fear of dying,” Paul says. “I didn’t want to go into oblivion or even, or worse yet, into some kind of judgment.”

A friend, Tom Anderson, composed a paper called “A Lawyer Gives a Defense of the Divinity of Christ.” After reading it, Paul realized it made a lot of sense.

“I knew if this is true, this changes everything. This is huge. So I could immediately tell that this was something big that needed to be pursued,” he says. “But the bigger part of the picture is this individual had a roadmap for connecting the dots to where I, for the first time, saw the possibility of knowing whether it was true or not. And I thought ‘I’m not going to live forever; maybe I’d better look into these things and settle them.’” Read the rest: skeptical intellectual, at 50, decided to study more thoroughly the God he had dismissed as ‘unknowable’ when he was younger.

A pastor who’s a politician? Rob McCoy flouted Calvary Chapel. Then he defied the governor of California

Rob McCoy and familyFor 20 years, Rob McCoy preached in his pulpit and never faced persecution, but when he ventured into politics, he got death threats, received hate mail and was stalked by menacing figures.

“I got beat up,” says McCoy, former mayor of Thousand Oaks in California. “It was the hardest thing I ever did.”

A pastor who’s a politician???

“I want to dispel the myth that Christians don’t belong in politics,” says McCoy, 55, who is at the center of a national maelstrom by holding services in violation of California’s rules closing churches.

Rob McCoy, political firebrand, man of compassion“You don’t have the right to shut down churches and let Marxists run amok in our cities,” McCoy said in the Citizens Journal.

McCoy was referring to recent massive protests and riots of Black Lives Matter and Antifa where vandalism and looting were widespread and hundreds of thousands of bodies huddled together on the street with basically no social distancing nor face masks mandated to stop the spread of Covid. The same liberal politicians who encourage the protests and made no mention of the dangers of Covid are the ones closing churches in California, New York, Chicago and Minnesota.

If protesters aren’t required to stay home due to Covid, why are church members? The current slew of governing leaders have deemed church “non-essential,” while marijuana dispensaries, liquor stores and the like are doing a thriving business.

Rob McCoy pastor of Calvary Chapel Thousand OaksThe U.S. Supreme Court just handed down July 24th a discouraging 5-4 ruling for Nevada churches that have been facing suffocating restrictions while casinos are relatively free to return to business.

“The Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito in the dissenting opinion. “It says nothing about the freedom to play craps or blackjack, to feed tokens into a slot machine or to engage in any other game of chance. A public health emergency does not give governors and other public officials carte blanche to disregard the Constitution for as long as the medical problem persists.”

The son of a Navy captain, Rob McCoy grew up in Coronado, California, doing all things associated with water: swimming, surfing, scuba and water polo.

An English teacher in public high school invited him to a home Bible study, where he heard about Jesus for the first time, but it was a swim coach who led him to the Lord.

On a swim scholarship, McCoy attended California State University at Fresno where he got a bachelor’s degree in history in 1987. It was during college that he and his roommate co-committed to following Christ more diligently.

Rob McCoy pastor politicianHe was engaged to someone else when he met his wife. Because his girlfriend got pregnant, his college group pastor suggested they expedite marriage. This brought a crisis with his parents because the girl was Hispanic.

“You give birth to that child, and I’ll kick you out of this house,” his father told him.

Kicked out and trying to pick up the pieces of his life, McCoy went to a Christian concert with his fiancé at Hume Lake.

On the way back from the concert, something shocking happened. His fiancé took off the engagement ring and confessed she’d slept with the campus pastor, a married man. McCoy waited until birth to do a paternity test, which confirmed it was the pastor’s child.

All throughout McCoy’s ups and downs “in the midst my sin and God’s grace,” Mederies (she goes by Michelle) Fowler remained a friend to him and encouraged him to do the right thing, McCoy says. After the engagement was officially called off, he grew closer to Michelle and the two eventually married.

Rob-McCoyIn an unusual coincidence, Michelle’s grandmother — also married to a Navy man, Admiral Richard Fowler — had hosted the baby shower and donated the crib towards little Rob McCoy years earlier. His parents were pleased with Michelle.

Today, McCoy calls these high and lows his higher education in the “school of hard knocks.” The couple has four natural born children — Molly, Kelly, Daniel and Michael — and one adopted daughter, Natasha.

Nowadays, McCoy is a a conservative Republican opposed to abortion, but when he was in high school and his then-girlfriend warned him she’d missed her period, he urged abortion as the quick and easy means to elude responsibility.

As the days passed, however, it turned out his girlfriend wasn’t pregnant after all. When McCoy was married in 1990 to Michelle, his wife miscarried and he wept over the dead baby. (The miscarriage almost killed his wife due to hemorrhaging, he adds.)

The loss of his first child provided a time for for reflection.

What’s the difference between the child that you wanted to get rid of and the one now that you are weeping over? God impressed on his heart.

“The difference was convenience,” McCoy surmises grimly. “I didn’t want to get beat up by her dad. The child was just a commodity. It was all about me.”

By contrast, the miscarried child filled his heart with love. “It was at that moment that I loved somebody more than myself. I came face to face with ‘What is responsibility? What is life?’” he says. “I was just empty and cold until I came to Christ.”

If once he treasured only himself, McCoy now values people. He’s always hosted people in his house, missionaries, refugees and even the wayward sons of well-known U.S. congressmen. All receive the love of Christ and the chance for discipleship. Right now, he’s hosting Colombians.

During college he got to know and admired the Calvary Chapel movement, so he joined the Redlands church where Don McClure was pastor. Eventually he followed McClure to San Jose to help with the work there and was ordained. In 2001, he was offered the pastorate the Thousand Oaks Calvary Chapel, one the oldest but was declining in numbers, he says. Today they have 1,400 in attendance.

He was riding on a wave or revival. Calvary Chapel was founded by Chuck Smith in 1968 on a simple principle: teach the whole Word to young people disaffected by the turbulence of the 1960s – and be led by the Spirit.

“Chuck decided to be apolitical because all these kids were disillusioned with politics, and began teaching the Bible. The nation was in turmoil with all these kids checked out of the church and had gone after Eastern religions and gone after every kind of drug imaginable,” McCoy said at Liberty.

“It was an amazing move of God upon the state of California. But we were apolitical.”

In fact, staying out of politics was practically a major tenet of their doctrine.

So how, then, did McCoy break with his church’s doctrine and “sully” himself in “dirty politics.”

Two things happened. One was a couple of key people encouraged him to impact society through politics because of his grip on history. They were on a trip to Israel.

The second was the deterioration of conditions in California. “With 10,000% growth in Calvary Chapels and being apolitical, what was the result?” he asked.

The gospel is supposed to transform culture. How have we impacted the State of California being apolitical? he wondered.

California had slipped from 5th largest GDP to 6th or 7th. It aborted more babies than there are people in Canada. It led the drive for no-fault divorce that decimated homes in America. It was a leader in anti-family values and in poverty levels, in taxes and in debt, he says.

McCoy launched his foray into politics with an unsuccessful bid for the California assembly. The state’s Republican party poured $1 million into his opponent’s campaign in the primary because they didn’t want an old white man, McCoy says. He still won.

The Republicans endorsed him but only on the condition he let an outsider wunderkind run his campaign. The guy was a brilliant kid from UC Berkeley but wasn’t saved. No matter. Within days, McCoy’s supporters had evangelized him and turned him into a believer.

He almost won the seat, but the Democrats flooded the obscure assembly seat with $6 million in funding, and he lost by 4,000 votes.

It was a bruising defeat. He discovered politics is dirty and his opponents were vicious. He had worked tirelessly and had suffered threats, hate mail and intimidation tactics. “I never suffered the kind of persecution the Bible talks about until I went into politics,” he says.

He was exhausted. But then somebody suggested he run for the seat on the Thousand Oaks City council that his opponent vacated to run against him for Assembly. He reluctantly relented. After 150 coffees and 650 volunteers canvassing neighborhoods, he won by a mere 52 votes, he says.

Eventually, he became mayor.

It was McCoy who helped stop the Assembly bill that would have outlawed “conversion therapy” for minors that many feared would slash the throat of the church’s use of the Bible. McCoy simply invited the bill’s sponsor, California Assemblyman Evan Low, to visit his church and meet his diverse staff and listen to their concerns that the bill violated the First Amendment. Read the rest: Christians in politics, Rob McCoy defied Governor’s closure of churches.

Noted artist battled leukemia, saved marriage

vera kirkpatrick cancer“You have two weeks to live.”

Those were not the words that Hawaii-based artist Vera Kirkpatrick expected to hear after a routine blood test with her doctor. She worked out twice a day and kept herself in peak health.

All of sudden, she needed her husband, a man she had grown distant from in her self-sufficiency.

Looking back, Vera had grown up in an impoverished, fatherless home. “There were six kids. We had nothing,” Vera says in a CBN video. “So my whole idea was, ‘If I’m successful and I have finances then people won’t look at me as a poor orphan. They will see my success.’”

vera and john kirkpatrickCreating and selling in-vogue art pieces brought her fame and finances. She married, had three kids and moved to Hawaii where she and her husband, John, ran two art galleries. Vera had all the pieces of success.

But she felt John, who adored her, was too controlling, and she contemplated leaving him.

“I wanted to create my own rules, my own world,” she says. “John ended up putting me on a pedestal, and that was good for a while but then I got tired of that. I didn’t want to be molded and shaped. I’m the powerful person. Not ‘we’ but ‘me.’”

But the mulling of separation got cut short abruptly in 2009 when Vera, after skipping doctor’s checks for six years, finally went in for a physical and the doctor ran a standard blood test. He found leukemia.

“What’s Leukemia?” Vera asked when he broke the news. “Wait, is that a cancer?”

“Yes,” he responded. Then he delivered awful news: “What’s worse, I think you have about two weeks to live.”

Oncologist Anthony DeSalvo confirmed the grim prognosis.

vera kirkpatrick“Acute Leukemia, in the absence of urgent treatment, is rapidly fatal,” he says. “It is typically within weeks without treatment you will die.”

Vera turned to the God she knew only superficially.

“Okay God, I’m at a crossroads here. Are you real? Can I call on you?” she prayed frantically. “Are you able? All these stories and all these things were they for real my whole life? Are you mad at me? Will you even listen to me now?”

Her self-made world crumbled. She had achieved success all by herself, and she was proud of it. But with cancer circling, she realized her self-sufficiency was utterly meaningless.

“I’ve been doing everything on my own terms,” she mused.

“I reached out for a life saver and that was God,” Vera remembers. “I went back to my roots, because I wasn’t going to save myself. And you can put your trust in medicine, but the ultimate healing is going to have to be God.” Read the rest: Vera Kirkpatrick Christian artist.

She was becoming too Westernized, so her Muslim parents married her off back in Pakistan

Muslims in EnglandBorn in a strict Shia Muslim Pakistani family in South London, Rayeesa was becoming too westernized, too worldly, according to her family, because she wanted to… play tennis.

Yes, that’s right. She wanted to play tennis. Compete, to be more exact. And that was wholly inappropriate for a proper Muslim girl, she was told. So her parents sent her and her sister back to Pakistan and married them off to Muslim men.

“We loved tennis. And I wanted to enter competitions,” Rayeesa said in a CBN video. “They wouldn’t allow that because it was not respectable for a Muslim girl. My parents told me and my sister, ‘You are going to in Pakistan and we are going to find you suitable husbands.’ I had never ever thought that would happen to me. It actually made me feel completely alone.”

Shia muslims in EnglandOne night Rayeesa and her sister tried to escape. In their flight, they tried to enlist the assistance of some guards. But when the guards tried to get “overly friendly” with them, they resisted their advances. Giving up, the guards instead forced them to return home.

Rayeesa was married against her will in accordance with Muslim practices to an Indian man she didn’t even know.

The good news is that he didn’t really love her and only wanted to use her as a means to get to England himself. He sent Rayeesa to England with the plan that she would arrange his paperwork to immigrate later.

westernized muslimsShe never did.

Instead, she joined the police force.

In was on the force that she met a colleague with a deep and vibrant relationship with Christ. Rayeesa had read the Bible and the Koran but didn’t know which to believe. But her friend, Anna, had a recognizable glow missing from Rayeesa’s life.

“What’s so special about Jesus? Just tell me,” Rayeesa asked her one day. “Why do you love Jesus so much?”

Anna wore down Rayeesa’s skepticism.

“I thought that was the most crazy thing. She told me who God was. That was so different to what I had been taught,” Rayeesa recalls. “I was taught that Jesus was a prophet and He was like Mohammed. But hearing Anna’s explanation of how Jesus was actually God in human form coming and then giving his life and dying so that we could have a relationship with God.”

Rayeesa mulled the presentation. What if it is true? What if Jesus really is God? I am believing in Mohammed and Allah, but what if it is not the truth?

Rayeesa committed to the quest of unearthing the truth.

From that point onwards, she was determined to find the truth about God. Who is God? she wondered.

Finally, she got down on her knees and prayed: “Jesus if you are real, if you are who you say you are then I hear your voice that you are knocking on the door. I open my heart and I want you to come in.”

Then God answered her prayer in a remarkable way. “Suddenly the minute I said that it just felt like I was flooded with love. It was an instant feeling of being washed and accepted and I knew then that this Jesus is real,” she recounts. “Worry and fear and everything was just washed away by this love and I felt complete. Read the rest: Westernized Muslims in England.

Covid’s silver lining: sex workers freed in India

project rescue imageWhile Covid-19 has killed myriads, shut down economies and closed churches around the world, the deadly virus has liberated thousands of exploited sex workers in India, according to a report from Project Rescue.

“What Project Rescue hasn’t been able to do in 24 years of giving itself to rescuing and restoring the lives of thousands of women and their children, this virus has shut down the Red Light Districts in India,” says founder David Grant. “God has given us an opportunity to reach out to these women that we’ve never seen in all these years. In 50 years of being involved in missions, this is the greatest moment we have ever experienced.”

human trafficking indiaBecause of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s particularly drastic quarantine, there are no businesses open, no transit, and no industry. With the streets virtually deserted, brothels have no customers and human traffickers are simply releasing their prey rather than have to feed them without them generating any income, Grant says.

“This is the greatest miracle in Project Rescue’s entire history,” he adds.

Other nonprofits report a spike in human enslavement in other parts of the world, as governments repurpose resources usually dedicated to fight traffickers. Perhaps what Project Rescue is reporting is unique to India where stringent restrictions were put in place.

grants

David and Beth Grant

“In the middle of unimaginable crisis comes unprecedented opportunity,” says Rod Loy, director of strategic initiatives. “For the first time in our life time, sex trafficking is shut down. No one is visiting the Red Light District, customers are non-existent, demand is at an all time low. Traffickers are losing money.

“As a result, traffickers are giving women permission to leave and take their children with them,” Rod adds. “In the years of Project Rescue, this has only been a dream. It’s never happened. What the enemy intended for evil, God is using for good. These are the most exciting days in the history of Project Rescue.”

Many of the women who find themselves trapped in the brothel were either kidnapped or sold into the trade. In some cases, they are chained with actual shackles. But often those chains are financial. The women know no other way to make a living for themselves and their children, Rod says.

“We need to be ready to seize the moment of what He wants us to do in the middle of the storm,” Executive Director Beth Grant says.

Project Rescue is issuing a plea for financing to help released sex slaves return to their hometowns to find food. Project Rescue will feed and provide vocational training so that when Covid dies away the sex workers will have a practical alternative to make money other than the life they have lived for years.

The nonprofit deploys 422 international staff and 226 national staff to rescue and restore youth who have been coerced or enticed into a living they now feel trapped by, its website says.

Pastor Rajneesh of Jaipur reports 300 women and children rescued from such slavery, so the urgency to meet their need is great or “they’ll be forced to return the Red Light districts so they’re children won’t die,” Rod says. “The window of opportunity is short.” Read the rest: Sex workers freed in India due to Covid.

Out of trauma, out of fears

Demetrius FearsHer mother was scolding Demetrius Fears because the 4th grader was STARTING homework at 10:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Then just outside, gunfire erupted.

“Stop! No!” her Uncle Robert shouted, and then they heard a loud pop, pop, pop.

Robert staggered into the house with blood streaming down his face and body.

“When everything happened, I froze. I didn’t know what to do. Everything happened in slow motion,” says Dee, 22.

overcoming fearsDee’s grandma, Yvonne, wasn’t too strong in the Lord at that time. But the Holy Spirit kicked in and she began praying and prophesying that Uncle Robert would live. “She spoke life over him in the name of Jesus,” Dee says.

Their prayers were answered and Uncle Robert survived the shooting.

Dee is named after her father, who died from gunshots weeks before she was born.

After the incident, Dee decided to stay home as much as possible. Because she was always at home, everybody took advantage of her baby-sitting services. She loved babies.

In community college, Dee started attending church and also studied child development. At church, she developed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and was born again.

“As I began to do what God wanted me to do and follow His plan for my life, I saw a lot of doors open for opportunities and to be in child ministry,” she says.

She got a job at Starbucks and then added a part-time position at a Christian infant care in Santa Monica.

As time went on, she wondered why she was even bothering with coffee, which she doesn’t like, and not working full-time with babies, which she loves. She offered to her boss, Anita, to go full-time at the Lighthouse Center for Infants.

“She started crying tears of joy,” Dee says. The Infant Care badly needed qualified workers. “She told me I was an answer to prayer.”

“Whoa,” Dee thought in response. “I never thought I could be somebody’s answer to prayer.”

Dee has gained new friendship and developed her classroom learning about child development in real life practice.

One day in church, a sister prophesied that she would overcome her insecurities, which stem from not having a father. During the initial stages of the Coronavirus lockdown, she began to feel unloved.

“I began feeling worthless, like I was useless in every way possible, like I wasn’t worth it, like nobody wants you here,” Dee remembers. “The thoughts were so loud that I began believing they were true.” Read the rest: overcoming trauma and fears.

Either the booze or the marriage

mary linkaErik and Mary Lanka worked hard and partied hard until alcohol became a nightmare. Then Mary delivered an ultimatum: Either me or the booze.

“This is a long road down a big black hole,” Mary says on a CBN video. “We were acting like college students in parent bodies. You can’t just keep up that kind of lifestyle.”

As a young coupled married in 1998, Erik and Mary had ambitions. He was a real estate developer and she was a creative director in real estate and an artist.

“We knew that together we could make a lot of money and do a lot of great things,” Mary recounts.

“We worked really hard,” Erik says. “Mary was drinking then. I was drinking then. All of our friends were drinking then.”

one more drinkTheir firstborn son, Zach, arrived soon. “I didn’t have time for him,” Mary says. “I was too busy.”

With dreams of retiring young, Erik invested their wealth into a huge condominium project in 2002. But the remodeling was stymied by city officials and family members.

“Therefore, I started to drink more,” he recalls.

The next year, their second son, Joshua, was born. At the same time, the real estate market crashed and he couldn’t rent units for two years. The bank began to foreclose.

“I was seeing the writing on the wall,” Erik says. “I started to literally drink myself to sleep every night.”

“He went from being this jovial social drinker to someone who would pass out at five o’clock,” Mary remembers. “I couldn’t rouse him. We were having arguments that he wouldn’t even remember the next day.”

For her part, Mary stopped drinking. “I began to hate him for checking out,” she admits. “I began thinking, ‘This isn’t what I signed up for.’”

When he drove drunk with the kids in the car, she gave him the ultimatum: “She had to take me aside and say, ‘It’s either your booze or us,’” Erik remembers.

“That’s when I had an epiphany,” he says. “This social crutch had turned into a gotta-have-it-in-the-morning addiction.” Read the rest: booze or marriage.

‘I was shaking like a leaf’ Hispanic gangster had never felt God’s power before

angel frias in yosemiteLeft with the baby sitter, 4-year-old Angel Frias, one of nine siblings, was approached by a blonde woman who led him in a sinner’s prayer. She looked bright, almost angelic.

“I felt so protected,” he remembers. “I felt like there was a shield around me when I was a little boy.”

But by junior high, “Angel” stopped being an angel. He followed his older brothers into a Hispanic gang in Culver City, California.

angel frias fishing“That’s when I got into more of mess. I became a problem to society and not a solution.”

He fell into drugs, alcohol, rage and revenge.

“I had so much anger in my life that if I dropped a pen, I started kicking in doors. I started turning over tables. I started to cuss. If you looked at me the wrong way, the fight was on.”

God saved him from the worst scrapes and kept sending messengers to evangelize.

“When I had a can of beer on me or I was loaded, there was always a servant of the Lord that God would send into the Culver City projects to preach the Gospel and I would hear it,” he says. “They kept coming and they kept coming. There was one time this guy said, ‘God has a better plan for your life.’ I listened to his words, but I kept on the same road of destruction.”

He was in and out of county jail. He had guns pointed at his head, but the guns jammed.

“When my brother was there, he said, ‘That was God,’” Angel remembers. “But we were still in our mess.”

He spent three years in prison, only to return to more drugs and alcohol. He returned to prison for four years and four months. He never turned to God.

“I was the worst of the worst. I was down to 90 lbs.,” he says. “My medium shirts felt like they were extra larges on me.”

Finally, he committed an offense that could lock him up for 25 years to life.

Again, he listened to the preachers in the projects.

“God loves you so much,” the preacher said. “He doesn’t want this for your life. He has more for you.”

His sisters were praying for him. Finally he broke down.

“I fell to my knees and said, ‘Here I am, Lord. Here’s my life,’” he recalls. “I’m totally out of it. I don’t know what to do. I’ve heard about you. I need you to take over because I am out of control.”

For years he mocked people who were healed and fell under the power of the Spirit on Christian television programming.

But when he finally broke before God, he decided to go to church.

“As this preacher’s preaching, my body starts to shake. It felt like something wanted to come out it,” he says. He went up to the altar.

“I was shaking like a leaf. My eyes were blinking like 90 mph,” he says. “I was out of control. I knew God was in control. I surrendered. I opened up my arms and said, ‘Here’s my life. Do what you want with it.’ The guy was about to pray for me, but before he can touch me, I fell back and could not get up. My waist down to my legs, I could not move.” Read the rest: Culver City Hispanic gangster had never felt slain the Spirit before.

MAGAhulk all over #OpenCalifornia rallies is a Christian

magahulkThe MAGAhulk who erupted on social media after appearing at #OpenCalifornia rallies all over the state is a Christian who walked away from God after his mom died of cancer when he was 17.

“I completely turned my back on God after being raised in a strict Christian home,” says Stephen Davis, 35. “I was like, ‘Why, God, why? You know how much I need my mom.”

He fell into the party scene and dropped out of college after the first year. “I always knew there was a God. I just didn’t want to have anything to do with him.”

stephen davis magahulkBut at age 25, a series of “eye-opening miracles” eventually brought him back to Jesus — things like financial miracles. He found himself in a church service thinking, “I was too far gone to come back. God didn’t want me anymore.”

But the service seemed entirely centered around him with a message of hope that he could find forgiveness and begin serving Christ again.

“It hit me that He wanted me back,” Stephen says.

Stephen’s handle on Instagram is @realtalkperiod, but he’s been dubbed the MAGAhulk after he began showing up at rallies protesting what many view as senselessly prolonged shutdown of California’s economy.

go ahead knock my cap offAt 6’4” and 335 pounds of lean muscle mass, he carries a commanding presence, dressed in a dark blue 45 T-shirt and MAGA cap with a Trump flag and American flag slung over his shoulder.

People are drawn to him and begin to talk to him and he jovially but forcefully talks about the need of Governor Newsom to loosen lockdown restrictions and the blowback he’s gotten from the Left after he “came out” as a Trump supporter. A popular meme showing him in Trump cap saying “Go ahead bro, knock my cap off” taunts liberals, but Stephen is amiable and non-threatening.

“I used to hate Trump, but I didn’t know why,” he confides. “I was told he was a racist. I was told he was a horrible person. I believed all the media’s lies. But then I started to have doubts because in the 90s, all these prominent black leaders and rappers loved Trump. They wanted to be with Trump and be like Trump. I was a little confused. How is he now a racist?”

After being troubled by these considerations, Stephen decided he wouldn’t accept the standard story told by the Left and would conduct an inquiry for himself. What he found astounded him.

“I started to do my own research. I started reading his policies and what he stood for and how much he loved his country. I loved what he stood for. I asked, ‘Why is the media lying?’ He has American ideals.” Read the rest MAGAhulk at OpenCalifornia rallies.

She fought to get off welfare

church lady gets off welfareKarina Lahood never wanted welfare, but because she was afraid she would lose custody of her five boys when she suddenly became a single mom, she felt compelled to go on government support.

After two years of striving to overcome her circumstances, Karina worked and earned enough to pass the wage threshold and get off food stamps, Medicaid and all other government support.

Ironically, through her hard work, she was worse off than when she got free benefits. She had to continue to build her business to make it into the clear.

“They make it so easy to stay in that system,” Karina says. “Jesus said that the government would be on his shoulders. I didn’t want the government to support me. I said, ‘Jesus I need you to rescue me.’ It’s a generational system. God doesn’t want you to depend on the government. He wants you to depend on Him.”

karina lahoodMany Christians believe that Christ’s mandate to care for certain vulnerable segments of the population should be carried out by government. Others, including Karina, see government usurping God and the church in the role of charity. When it comes to social care, the government is notoriously inefficient, they say.

“The government gives you so many benefits. If you’re not motivated, you will be stuck in the system,” Karina says. “In any life crisis, we become paralyzed in the system, you go comatose, you become a frog in the kettle.”

Today, Karina Lahood is a proud business owner placing foreign students in caring homes where they can sleep, eat and practice English with an American family while they attend language school.

Her life has been a long lesson of learning to lean on Jesus. Anna Karina Elisabeth Wilson was born to a Swedish immigrant homemaker. Many years later she realized she had a Christian heritage in Sweden; he grandmother was a Pentecostal Christian with a heart-to-heart relationship with Jesus.

Karina and her two sisters grew up playing on the “Tarzan swing” dad hooked up on the one-acre property in Arcadia, California. Dad was always busy running a taxicab business. Only later did Karina find out he was a functional alcoholic.

Gods provision for single momHer family only went to church occasionally and Karina wished it was more often, but when a half-sister came to live with them, Karina learned to smoke pot from her while in middle school. She excelled at swimming but without parental support, she dropped that and fell into rebellion.

“I was an emotional mess in high school,” she admits.

When representatives of the California Conservation Corps came to her high school, she got hooked on their logo: “Hard work, low pay, miserable conditions and more,” she says. During the summer, she rode a Greyhound Bus to Angels Camp, California, where she worked environmental projects and responded to natural and man-made disasters.

The next year, she got her GED and joined a fire-fighting crew in the mountains. They cut fire lines, attended to fish and game hatcheries, tagged salmon, picked cones and dug fence holes in the Stanislaus National Forest.

“At night we partied and got drunk,” she says. “The state had night watchmen, but they didn’t really monitor anything.”

One friend drove drunk off a mountain road and died.

Sin demanded more and more of her attention. She had two abortions.

Going from job to job, neighborhood to neighborhood, relationship to relationship, Karina finally was invited to live in a Christian home with a the pastor and his wife and their six children.

“I couldn’t understand how someone with six kids wanted to have someone else live with them,” she remembers.

The pastor’s wife was very patient and loving and slowly brought her to Christ. In 1994, she married and started her own family. It was a picture perfect family with a house and a dog, but it was not to last.

Karina and her husband divorced.

“I felt betrayed, rejected and angry,” Karina remembers. “I had no vision. I only wanted our boys to feel loved and secure when my world was crashing.” Read the rest: She fought to get off welfare.

Abortion survivor meets biological mom

melissa ohden abortion survivor meets momWhen Melissa Ohden’s mom left the abortion clinic more than 30 years ago, she thought her fetus was disposed of properly.

She was a 19-year-old college student and was told the baby in her womb would ruin her life. She was pressured to “terminate the pregnancy” quickly and “conveniently,” and she followed their advice, according to her testimonial video on Eternal Word Television Network’s YouTube channel.

But baby Melissa didn’t die from the saline infusion of toxic water that was injected into the amniotic sack to kill her. She was removed from the womb very much alive.

Melissa weighed less than three pounds. After nurses sustained her with hospital care, she was adopted into a loving home.

abortion survivor forgives mom“God had a plan,” she says.

Today Melissa is married and an outspoken critic of abortion who has testified before Congress. She documents the trials and travails of finding out the truth of her origin in the stirring book, You Carried Me: A Daughter’s memoir.

At 14, Melissa was told about her adoption. But the news that her biological mother had tried to kill her hit like a tsunami. Negative emotions were born and took root.

Under the crushing rejection of her biological mother, Melissa spun out of control with bulimia, alcohol and sexuality — all coping mechanisms to deal with the raw pain.

“It absolutely devastated my life,” she says. “I didn’t want anyone else to know how much I was hurting.”

melissa ohdenHow did she break the cycle of self-destruction?

“It was the grace of God that saved me,” she says. “I had to be willing to wake up and say, ‘I’m not going to do that’” anymore.

As she grew, married, and had children, Melissa kept thinking about her biological mom. Who was she? Under what circumstances did she resort to such a drastic procedure? What was she like?

She embarked on a quest to find her mother.

“I loved her,” she says. “My love for her deepens year after year. Now I know the truth of how she was forced into that abortion.”

Initially through correspondence, she began to get to know her mother, and she came to understand and forgive her mom, who suffered 30 years of agonizing guilt, hiding the painful memory of killing her child.

Her journey led her embrace her mother and feel empathy for all women who feel cornered into abortion, she says. Read the rest: abortion survivor meets her mom.

Edwin Arroyave and Real Wives of Beverly Hills’ Teddi Mellencamp unashamed to tout Jesus

Edwin Arroyave and Teddi MellencampJust two weeks after he arrived from Colombia as a child and was taken to a luxurious home in Glendora, CA, little Edwin Arroyave watched his home raided because his father was under suspicion for drug trafficking.

Both mom and dad were hauled away, and Edwin and his two siblings saw their dream-like landing in America turn into nightmare as they went into foster care.

“After that, our home would get raided once a year,” he told Ed Mylett on a YouTube video. “It’s exactly like you see in the movies, probably worse. They just come in and turn that house upside down. The first three times they raided, my dad wasn’t there. I could hear the helicopter flying overhead looking for him.”

edwin arroyave christianOn the fourth raid, federal agents arrested and convicted Edwin’s dad. The family moved into poverty-stricken Huntington Park.

“Son, you need to be the man of house now,” his dad managed to tell him before being locked away “for a long time.”

“That was a blow to me because my dad was my hero,” Edwin says. “I was 10. Even though I didn’t know what he did for a living, I admired that he took care of everyone. He showed me a lot of love. It was a big blow.”

Mom and the kids were so poor they had to rent two of the rooms in the 3-bedroom apartment to make rent. Eight people lived in the apartment. “It was very cramped,” he says. “I remember roaches waking me up every night.”

teddi-mellencamp-dove-baby-girlThrough the chaos of their lives, mom prayed over him and built up his self-esteem. Edwin came to accept Jesus into his heart.

“You have greatness in you,” mom told him.

He dreamed of fulfilling the American Dream.

Because his sister’s boyfriend made $100,000 a year, Edwin decided he would earn that amount too.

He ditched high school classes and went to a posh Rodeo Drive upscale shopping district to window-shop and then tour the priciest neighborhoods of Beverly Hills and Hollywood Hills to see the mansions.

“One day, I’m going to be here,” he announced dreamily.

At 15 he got his first job. It was tele-marketing.

“I was just so grateful to get a job,” he says. “I was the youngest guy they hired. I just worked my butt off.”

At 16, he was promoted to supervisor of five employees. At 18, he was made manager of 40 employees. He was making $1,000 a week and became the right hand of the vice president of sales.

A short time later, the VP resigned and invited Edwin to help him found an alarm system company. Edwin would have to quit his $60,000 a year job and had no guarantee of success at the startup.

Today, that startup is Skyline Security, a $34 million giant in the domain of home security systems.

“A lot of success comes from common sense. I thought, ‘This guy is making 250 grand a year, he’s risking everything for it. He must be pretty serious.’”

“I took a risk to follow my dreams,” he says. “Everyone told me, ‘There’s no way you’re going to leave another $70,000 a year job for the unknown.’ But if you’re going to make it big, you have to go all in.”

He married Teddi Mellencamp, daughter of rocker John Mellencamp, who launched a weight loss program after she got her own fluctuating weight under control. They have three kids together and attend Mosaic Church, a hipster magnet, in Hollywood.

Teddi is also featured in The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reality show.

“Faith is huge for both of us,” Edwin says. “Before we went on the show, I had fear of the unknown. But we prayed about it and felt that God was putting this opportunity before us to show our faith and give Him glory.” Read the rest: Edwin Arroyave and Teddi Mellencamp Christian.

Long Beach church girl found her way back to God

praising JesusAt 10, Veronyka dressed like a boy and wanted to be a gangster. Then her father got radically saved and she started attending church.

“My family gang-bangs,” she said on a video posted by the Long Beach Door Church. “That’s just the life I came from. I come from generations and generations of gangsters. When you come from the lifestyle that I come from, there are strongholds.”

But after tasting church life, she decided to follow her secular friends and leave the church.

veronyka sanchez“I was going to church but I was also walling out, drinking and going to parties,” she said. I was living a double life. I never had a real one on one relationship with God. When I was 17 and I got my first real taste of the world, I decided, ‘This is awesome. I love it,’ and, ‘Freedom!’ and I got pregnant. I just kind of went downhill from there.”

Veronyka left home and lived house to house during the pregnancy and after giving birth. Then when her baby turned one, Veronyka turned to do what she thought was the only career available to her.

“I started dancing,” she says. “I was in a really hard place, and I felt very alone. I felt like I needed to get quick money fast. Everything that I ever knew was unraveling so fast, so I started dancing. Little did I know that I was going to go down a really dark rabbit hole once I opened that door.”

For three years, she made good money “dancing.” She got her own place and her own car and lived in San Bernardino.

“I got involved with some people who definitely took advantage of me and manipulated me,” she says. “As dark as an environment that I got in, I could have gotten deeper. It scared me to a point where I was like, ‘Am I going to go fully into what I’m doing or am I going to stop all of this and turn back to God?’ Read the rest: Church in Long Beach.

Best-selling author Andrew Klavan came to Christ

Author 1Andrew Klavan, international best-selling author, grew up in a Jewish household devoid of God.

He felt like a hypocrite at his bar mitzvah when he recited Hebrew statements of faith neither he nor his parents believed. “Judaism is a beautiful religion, but when you empty it of God, it has no meaning,” he told CBN.

He threw himself into reading. He didn’t get along with his dad, so he searched for male role models in books. He struck on the noir, Hemingwayesque hero, the tough guy womanizer who held to his own moral code.

The Long Island native liked reading so much that he started writing, first for a newspaper in Putnam County, NY, and then riveting detective novels. He wrote prolifically and read widely.

100780_w_760_724“The more I read, the more I found that Christianity was at the center of almost every great story that I loved,” Klavan said. “I started to read the Gospel according to Luke as a piece of literature just to find out what everybody was talking about, and I found that the figure of Jesus Christ was at the center of Western Culture.”

At first, he examined the issues only as a sociologist, trying to understand the origins and evolution of Western Civilization’s values and development. But the quest for truth that his protagonists portrayed resonated in his heart and eventually Klavan realized nothing made sense without the existence of God.

“I began to believe in my mind that there actually was a God, but I didn’t know Him yet,” he explained to CBN.

One day he read in a book that a character prayed before going to sleep and Klavan decided he could try the same. Tentatively, he muttered a very terse prayer.

“Thank, You, Lord,” he uttered.

Undramatically, he fell asleep.

“I woke up the next morning and truly everything had changed,” he says. ”There was a new clarity to everything. My heart was filled with gratitude. I was experiencing a joy that had been locked away. Suddenly, knowing God opened me up to my own experience of life.”

That tiny prayer turned into titanic growth in the Lord. Read the rest of the article Andrew Klavan Christian

Before there was Corona, there was crisis in Venezuela on border of Colombia

dr. bob hamilton and ligthhouse medical missions in columbia 2020Some of them walked 10 days to cross the border into Colombia in search of food or medical supplies they could take back to socialism-starved Venezuela.

Johnny Huerta and a team of six doctors, eight nurses and 24 other volunteers were in Cucuta, Colombia, on a temporary medical and feeding mission to show the love of Christ in a tangible way.

“We were swarmed by people,” said Johnny, who’s a painter and baseball player from Santa Monica. “They were grabbing us, grabbing us, like, ‘Pray for me. Pray for me.’”

food for venezuelan refugeesThe pleas for prayers grew to a fevered pitch after some miraculous healings and exorcisms, Johnny says.

The Lighthouse Medical Mission, which got its start 25 years ago in war-torn West Africa, landed on the border of Venezuela on March 7th — before most of the U.S. got locked down over Coronavirus fears. The humanitarian crisis of 40,000 daily border crossings there has been essentially eclipsed.

The Santa Monica-based team provided medical attention and drugs and handed out 3,000 meals a day in conjunction with World Central Kitchen in three areas: in Cucuta, in a Yukpa village on the outskirts of town and in nearby Pamplona. The 39 people divided up in teams to minister in each area.

Johnny Huerta Cucuta Columbia

Johnny Huerta shares fun with the kids.

Johnny was assigned logistics, took pictures, but mostly got roped into translation. The stories he heard of dead family members and left-behind family members appalled him as well as the squalor he witnessed. In the Yukpa village, there were no bathrooms and people lived in huts fashioned with tree limbs and plastic tarp.

“People can live with little and still be happy, but this was not healthy,” Johnny says. “They bathe in an unsanitary river, and that’s why they get lots of infections. They also drink out of that river.

“They have makeshift huts built out of garbage. Babies are walking around naked. They pretty much have nothing. It was one of those shocking situations where you say, ‘Wow people are waking up and living like this every day with unhealthy conditions.’”

The team brought two chefs, but they were prevented from serving until they scrambled to obtain Columbia food preparation licenses.

When they arrived at the border on the first day, “we weren’t sure how they were going to respond as we got out of the van to serve the food,” Johnny says. “They were desperate for food and outnumbered us. Immediately they ran over and we tried to get them in a line, which eventually became a crowd.

“As we tried to transport apples from the back of the van to the food serving area they began to crowd the back of the van as well. We ended up handing out the apples from the van as we were never gonna get through. The next couple of times we fed at the border we organized police protection in advance and were a bit more organized. Even then it was still a bit chaotic.”

Short-term missions are highly recommended because they can impact American church-goers forever: they broaden horizons, impart vision and erode entitlement.

“I was just thankful they gave me the privilege of being able to go with me,” Johnny says. “You feel like you get more out than you put into it. I’m more mature in my faith and in my life than I was before.”

As busy as he was being pulled this way and that, Johnny still found time to share his passion for painting with the kids. It was a personal connection he’ll treasure for life.

In Pamplona, the team attended 3,000 patients.

Many people are losing their eyesight because of rampant infections, Johnny says.

While the doctors saw patients, the pastors and lay leaders were praying for people, many of whom got healed even before they received medical attention, Johnny says.

That’s when they started getting swarmed.

Because witchcraft is widely practiced in the region, several people were delivered from demonic spirits, Johnny says.

“One lady was released from demon possession. She looked super oppressed beforehand and was all smiles afterward,” Johnny says. “They practice witchcraft and spiritism because of their circumstances. They’re reaching out for help. But when we came to them with the gospel, they were open.” Read the rest: Venezuelan refugees Christian response

He tried to be the devil’s #1

Ronnie Legg Texas gangster turned to ChristIncarcerated for a schoolyard murder, a psychologist told 12-year-old Ronnie Legg there was no forgiveness available to Him from God.

“I was like, ‘Wow, I’ll never be able to get into Heaven,” he says on a video published by a Texas outreach group. “I might as well be the devil’s #1. As soon as I was found guilty and sentenced to 21 years, I started pushing hard to try to do the devil’s work. I was pushing hard to be the ultimate gangster.”

Ronnie’s troubles began early: a single mom, abused as a tyke, living in poverty. For selling drugs on the wrong street in East Houston, his brother was killed. Nine-year-old Ronnie followed in his footsteps with drinking and smoking dope.

Ronnie Legg saved from gangsHis mother, brokenhearted at the loss of one son, steeled her heart against what she thought was the inevitable demise of Ronnie.

“There’s no more love here for you because you’re going down the same path your brother went down,” his mom told him. “You ain’t going to do nothing different, so I’ll be danged if you break my heart.”

Ronnie responded to the rejection by throwing the first object he could find at her.

“I hate you,” he yelled.

At age 12, he was on the schoolyard when a group of young gangsters tried to jump him. But they didn’t count on Ronnie being armed and he shot three of them, killing one. He was arrested four days later. Even without a jailhouse confession, prosecutors secured a conviction.

Ronnie Legg Game OverBy age 15, he was in the penitentiary because he was so dangerous. While there, he joined the Houstone Blast gang and fought every day to make a name for himself.

“As I started doing that, everybody was patting me on the back,” he recalls.

Released from prison, he trafficked dope, pimping and kidnapping in Houston.

In December 1999, the Feds tracked him down. It seems his best friend snitched on him. Sentenced to 72 months, he got into trouble in prison so much that his sentence was lengthened to 9 years and 4 months and then into 12 years.

“I ended up walking around some of the worst prisons in the whole United States,” he says. He was in Beaumont prison during the racial riots. He was transferred to Oklahoma and then to Pollack, Louisiana. Of 100 Texans in Pollack, only he and another survived.

Ronnie eventually was transferred to a Death Row penitentiary in Indiana. In Victorville penitentiary, he was thrown in with the Crips and Bloods. It didn’t matter to him that he was the only Houstone. Almost immediately, he stabbed someone on the yard.

Finally, he was transferred to the “Alcatraz of the Rockies” in Florence, Colorado, the “worst of the worst. Everybody there is a killer. Three people a day get stabbed,” Ronnie says.

When he was admitted, the warden gave him one warning:

“All I ask is that you don’t put no steel in my officers.”

When he was finally released, Ronnie went home and immediately resumed drug trafficking.

He got busted for a crime he didn’t commit. Read the rest: Houstone gang Christian.

‘I started punching myself in the face,’ says Muslim in disbelief after Jesus healed his mouth pain

khaleed-matmatiAs a Muslim, Khaleed Matmati was skeptical that Jesus would take away the pain from his mouth infection. But after prayer he was so astonished that the pain was gone the next morning.

“I started punching myself in my face, trying to make some kind of pain in my teeth and my face,” Khaleed says on a CBN video. “I realized Jesus was God. I just told Him, ‘Okay, Jesus, I give you my life.’”

Khaleed grew up as a Muslim immigrant who wasn’t particularly drawn to the rigorous disciplines of Islam. What drew him was music.

“I always believed that Allah was God,” he says. “But growing up in high school I wanted to have fun. I saw everybody else having fun. What’s fun about not smoking pot? What’s fun about not drinking? What’s fun about not partying? I thought, ‘Later on when I become a parent and have children, then I’ll be a good Muslim.’”

When worship leader Eddie James met Khaleed, the Lord spoke to him about taking Khaleed on the road with him. Even though Khaleed wasn’t Christian, Eddie James hired him because God had told him that Khaleed would convert.

2593-1498622988-31495“It was right after 9/11 had happened, and Eddie was not trying to take no Muslim into his ministry,” Khaleed says now laughing.

Khaleed didn’t care for the religion. What he liked was the chance to learn music. ”I thought this was my big break,” he says. “I wanted to learn what I could from Eddie and go and do my own thing.”

His initial sign from God was on his first stop in Nashville Tennessee.

It started off with his friend David, who got bitten by a bug, which later began to swell.

They were staying in a Christian’s house and the mother of the household announced she would pray for David.

“This lady has gotta be out of her mind,” Khaleed thought to himself at the time. “Jesus healing a hand? That’s the stuff they do on TV. Who believes that crap?”

1f5efd4778b9544cc50ec70fc00a5e1fShe prayed, and then — to Khaleed’s astonishment — the swelling went down.

“Right in front of my face, the swelling goes away,” Khaleed remembers. “You couldn’t even tell anything was wrong with his hand.”

After he saw that, Khaleed wondered if he himself could be healed. He had been experiencing pain due to an infection in his mouth and gums.

“Can you do for my mouth what I saw you do for his hand?” he asked.

“When she started praying for me, the pain was gone,” he recalls. “I needed a minute to comes to grips with what just happened. I remember sitting in the chair after she prayed for me thinking, ‘Oh my God, my whole life is going to change.’”

Still, Khaleed was not ready to ditch Islam. So he thought that perhaps the painkillers he’d been taking had finally kicked in. They asked him if he was healed. He responded: “Let me tell you in the morning” after the painkillers will have worn off.

The next morning, he woke up and began munching sugar molasses cookies. As he savored them, he swished them around in his mouth trying to re-provoke the pain.

“There was absolutely no pain,” he says. “I began to really start freaking out. I began to start punching myself in the face, trying to make some kind of pain in my teeth and in my mouth. I realized that Jesus was God. Read the rest: what happens when Muslims get healed by Jesus?

Could he forgive the death of his brother? Bryann Trejo punches the devil and doesn’t retaliate against the killers

AR-190919667Bryann Trejo was a cold-blooded killer* who’d already spent half his adult life in jail. So when gangsters gunned down his twin brother, Bryann T was tempted to exact a brutal and immediate revenge.

“Even after he was saved, he was murdered,” Bryann says about his brother to Rapzilla. “I came to know Christ as well. I forgave his enemies and murderers and God wrote a new song in my heart.”

Bryann’s twin, named Ryan, is a frequent subject in the hip hop of Bryann Trejo, who is leader of the Kingdom Music Family based in Abilene, Texas. The gangster-turned-pastor’s music, which recently catapulted to the highest levels in CHH, communicates an urgency and passion to get lost souls out of the unforgiving streets and into Jesus’ eternal forgiveness.

bryann trejoBryann was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, but his family moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, when he was 13. There, he fell into armed robberies and selling narcotics. The juvenile delinquent system and then later adult jail, had a “revolving door” for Bryann, he admits on his website.

“I was thugging, out whiling, a Mexican with a cohete (Spanish slang for a gun) with the love the streets,” Bryann says on a Frontline Ministries Braden Hall YouTube video. “That type of love landed me in shootouts, prison, depression and suicide attempts.”

Because FIRST TIME gangsters attempted to kill his brother, Bryann unleashed a furious retaliation that landed him 30 years in jail for two attempted murders. Eventually the charges were lowered with a plea bargain.

Bryann got out of jail at age 27. His brother had gotten saved and Bryann determined to straighten up with God too.

“I’m a knucklehead. I had an identical twin, and we were mixed up in all kinds of bad stuff,” Bryann told Rapzilla. “But he came to know Christ. We started rapping together. But even after he was saved, he was murdered. I came to know Christ as well.”

bryann and monica trejoThe SECOND ATTEMPT on Ryan’s life was a case of mistaken identity on May 28, 2013 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Ryan was trying to disciple a young hoodlum, whom the gangsters were looking for in reprisal for a murder days earlier. The killers showered him with bullets.

Bryann was enraged and broken beyond belief. But he was committed to not relapsing into the old life. Even though he knew who the killers were and could have easily tracked them down, he decided to walk in Christian forgiveness.

“The anger came. God, how could you let my brother get murdered? He served You. I wanted to question Him,” Bryann says on a CUTV video. “I wanted revenge. I’d been in prison before for attempted murder, so when he died it’s already in me to retaliate, especially since he was innocent. I wanted them to pay.”

Bryann came to a crossroads. He faced a momentous decision: either relapse into ravenous revenge or make an audacious stand of forgiveness.

He cried out to God: “Lord, I’m about to go cuckoo. I’m about to lose everything. I got six kids; he got six kids. They’re going to lose daddy and uncle. I knew right then and there, I had to forgive.

“I argued with God, ‘But my brother was innocent,’” he continues. “And the Holy Spirit was like, ‘Jesus was innocent.’ Then I was like, ‘But he didn’t deserve this.’ And the Holy Spirit was like, ‘Jesus didn’t deserve it.’”

It wasn’t by any means easy, but Bryann struggled to truly forgive. He still struggles with “bitterness and poison” in his heart. Every day he’s reminded about his brother’s death every day.

“I see his face in the mirror. We’re identical twins,” Bryann says. “His case is still open. The so-called friends didn’t want to be snitches, so they didn’t say nothing. Everything I thought was real in the streets was fake. So now I have this passion to expose Satan and tell people that he is a liar.”

When he returns to the neighborhood, his former friends still provoke him to take revenge.

“The people ridicule me,” he says. “Homeboys be like, ‘You ain’t going to retaliate? That’s your brother. What kind of brother are you?’” he says. Those words stir up the old street pride.

“What, you don’t think I will?” he counters. But then he remembers he’s living in forgiveness.

“I’m not that man. I don’t fight the way I used to fight,” he says. “I trust through Christ that His way of fighting is better than my way of fighting. I’m really punching Satan every time I forgive. I just didn’t know that was the way to fight back because it didn’t make no sense in the physical. We all want to fight the enemy.” Read the rest: Bryann Trejo rapper no revenge

One month after his wife died, Danny Gokey tried out for American Idol

danny gokeyDanny Gokey’s wife died unexpectedly during a routine heart surgery in 2009.

“They gave me a private room and I yelled out loud, ‘God you have to save her! You have to heal her! You have to. You cannot leave me alone like this!’” he said on an I am Second video. “It got to the point where she was gone, and once again that old familiar thing of fear came back into my life.

“I felt in my heart, God’s mad at me.”

Christian singer Daniel Jay Gokey, 40, is best known for his first single, “My Best Days Are Ahead of Me,” which peaked at number 29 on the country chart, inspiring him to release his full record My Best Days in early 2010.

Born in Milwaukee, Danny attended Heritage Christian Schools and sang with his family in church. In his mid twenties he became the director of Faith Builders International Ministries.

Leyicet-Peralta-WikiDuring this time, he married Sophia Martinez, who was also a fellow church-going music fan.

It was Sophia who encouraged Danny to audition for American Idol. He was accepted as a recipient and ultimately placed third in 2009. This launched his music career, which he aimed at the Christian pop segment.

Four weeks before Danny’s tryout on American Idol, Sophia died. He performed his best in devotion to her.

“I made a promise that I would go try out,” Danny says. “Little did I know that when I would try out for this show, it would be a month after she passed.”

Sophia had a heart condition from birth but had gotten it fixed in a surgery when she was young. Or so Danny thought.

“Little did I know that in our first year of marriage that we’d be in the hospital together because her heart was beating 200 times per minute,” Danny recalls. “And that’s when the doctor dropped the news on us. We were both 24 years old. He said, ‘We’re going to have to have another heart surgery.’”

In his youth, Danny was plagued by all kinds of irrational fears. Many of his fears centered on whether God truly and unconditionally loved him.

Now all the old fears rose up. Read the rest: Danny Gokey’s wife died.

She found no peace in the ‘religion of peace’ until she found the Prince of Peace

Jazal KhatriAll the praying to Allah did little good for Jazal Khatri, whose parents fought contiually and finally divorced.

But when a co-worker’s prayers calmed her panic attack, Jazal experienced a peace never before felt.

“I can no longer think that I’m worthless because if my name is written on God’s hand, as Isaiah 49 mentions, that means He always cares about me,” says Jazal on a 700 Club video. “

Jazal (now with a new last name, Osorio, as a married woman) grew up in a strict Muslim family in America.

Jazal Osorio“I believed that staying true to Islam was something my parents and I would bond over,” she says. “As I did as they requested me to do — like going to the mosque with them, participating in Ramadan fasting — it would bring us closer.”

The hoped-for result never materialized. Instead, she and her mom would flee at midnight frequently.

“I could go to bed thinking everything’s fine and wake up the next morning and it would be disaster,” she says.

And Allah responded with no peace when she prayed.

“Allah seemed really distant for me. I didn’t really feel like I was being listened to. I felt more of like I was going through the motions. I was not really feeling anything in return from god, any love or support or hope. I wanted.

“I wanted that peace that people keep talking about that Islam represents and I didn’t ever feel that.”

When she was a senior in high school, her father called it quits to the tumultuous marriage. Subsequently, mom started a new family.

“After I went through all that with my family, I kind of felt like I wasn’t worthy of any affection or love,” she recounts. “I looked for it from my parents and didn’t get it. It was kind of a reminder: Hey Jazal, you’re not that great. If you were great, your family wouldn’t have left you behind.” Read the rest: no peace in the ‘religion of peace.’

Beyond God’s forgiveness because he altered his body to be transgender?

72137812_1391789564304612_6296076620306317312_nSamuel’s mother prayed but couldn’t get pregnant. So when Samuel was conceived, he was her miracle child.

Growing up in a Christian household in Fort Myers, Florida,, little Samuel Jordan III dreamed of becoming a pastor.

But at eight years old, he was sexually abused by a friend’s family member.

“He starts saying things like ‘We’re just acting, I’m gonna be the man, you’re gonna be the woman,’” says Samuel. “The innocence that I carried as a little boy that loved Jesus, I really felt like that got snatched away from me,” he recounts on a 700 Club video.

samuel jordan as a kidSamuel didn’t tell his mom about the first traumatic abuse. It happened again, followed by more violations.

Perversely, Samuel began to enjoy the sin and seek it regularly.

By age 14, he was exploring homosexuality on his own with friends from school.

Meanwhile, feelings of guilt and shame troubled him at church.

“I asked God, ‘Whatever this feeling is, I need you to take this out of me,’” Samuel recalls. But “it seemed every time I prayed, nothing really changed.”

The routine of secret sin got upended when mom discovered an explicit note in his backpack. She was shocked and decided to take a radical stand of tough love: to cut off her relationship with her son.

“My relationship with her at that moment took a shift. She told me, ‘If this is how you’re gonna live, I can’t talk to you.’” Samuel remembers, crying. ”I was like her blessing, but I became her curse, and she could no longer look at me.”

In hopes to restore his relationship with his mom, he halted the promiscuity.

transgender transformedHe never could patch things up with his mother. She died of cancer after two years of broken communication with her son.

“I felt like that last piece of me had left the earth,” he says. “There was a hollowness in my heart and Samuel was gone.”

Then his father moved in with another woman and Samuel was left on his own.

With no one around to support him, Samuel gravitated back towards the life of sin and found acceptance in the gay community.

“I really hated Samuel. He wasn’t accepted, Samuel was disowned, Samuel was alone,” he continues. “So when I finally saw (the gay) lifestyle and found a sense for belonging, I went for it.”

Samuel changed his name to Simone and lived as a transgender and got breast implants.

He even worked as an escort.

“Simone was that person that got the level of affirmation and love and acceptance that Samuel never got,” Samuel states.

At the same time, he wrestled with guilt and shame.

“Though I had become this person, I didn’t know who I was looking at,” Samuel recalls. “I just felt like my inside who I really was, was now being destroyed.”

After he dropped out of Tallahassee Community College, he moved back to Fort Myers into the home of a family friend who took him on the condition that he go to church with her.

He wasn’t altogether turned off by the idea of going to church. He felt very lost and hoped to find some direction.

As he listened to the worship, he felt a new sensation coming over him.

“I knew I was desperate for something, and that moment made sense,” Samuel says. “I was desperate for Him and I was lost without Him, and so as he began to sing, began to cry from a very desperate place.” Read the rest: transgender not beyond the forgiveness and restoration of God.

Run DMC, now ‘Rev Run’

RevRun-Justine-SimmonsBefore his influence, hip hop was a backwater movement off most people’s radar. Then Joseph Simmons and his group Run DMC brought rap to the mainstream in the mid 1980s and suddenly it became an international sensation.

Joseph Simmons banked millions, landed his own $2.0 million Adidas shoe deal and had innumerable adoring fans. A few albums later, he had fallen off.

One member of the trio was murdered, another was lost in drugs, and Joseph Simmons, succumbing to alcoholism, was left scratching his head wondering why the genre he helped found had all but forgotten him. His wife was divorcing him. He was accused of rape. His fame, finances and family were frittering away.

Thankfully the New York native turned to God.

run-dmc-portrait-joseph-run-simmons-darryl-d-m-c-news-photo-1579816339“There are always your darkest moments before the birth of a beautiful thing. Rev Run at his low point was not quite Rev Run,” he says, speaking in third person about himself, to the Guardian. “He was trying to understand this great thing that was happening to him. There was a time to reap, a time to sow. A time for it to be sunny outside and a time when it’s so dark you have no option but to just be or you’ll go nuts.”

“Records sales weren’t as high as they was (sic),” he says on NPR. “I was a little unhappy with what was going on so I started going to church. And when I started going to church I started to feel better. Things were starting to look brighter for me. I started to see that learning the principles of God was helping to shape my life better.”

RevFamily-panoramaAs the rap genre turned dark and promoted drugs and gang violence, Simmons turned to church. It was a former Run DMC bodyguard, Bobby Walker, who finding Run wallowing in depression persuaded him to attend New York’s Zoe Ministries Church in 1990. Within five years Run had gone from usher to ordained minister, donning the moniker Reverend Run.

Today, the 55-year-old who once rapped Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” on colab now teaches people to “walk His way” and preaches an aggressive, rhapsodic message wherever he’s invited: “You must be born again, my friend, or you’re going straight to hell,” Southcoast Today quoted him at a 1996 church service.

As a Pentecostal pastor, Rev Run was turning heads. In 2005, he got the chance to bring God’s truths about family and marriage to a reality show on MTV.

Yes, you read that right. MTV — that profane purveyor of hedonism, anti-God-ism and ADD — the last a result of the rapid fire succession of endless images to music. It was MTV where potty-mouthed Ozzy Osbourne, the satanic concert chicken-head decapitator, had his reality show. It was an imponderable spot for a reverend to be preaching — or rather practicing what he preaches.

MTV was also an extraordinary opportunity to shine light into an incredible dark space, and he was given the opportunity to dispense sound spiritual advice on “Run’s House” because of his previous work as Run DMC’s front man. Now he had, instead of platinum sales, an eternal view toward streets of gold. Read the rest: How did Rev Run become Christian?

Crushed by stress and hate, cops have nowhere to turn except Jesus

5-8m3xyxGruesome crimes that cannot be “unseen” sometimes weigh down on and break the heart of police officers who got into law enforcement with enthusiasm and idealism.

Without a “Biblical mindset,” the men and women in blue turn to anger, alcohol and divorce at higher frequencies than almost any other group in society, says Paul Lee, executive director of the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers (FCPO).

Police have a divorce rate of 75 percent and a domestic abuse rate of 40 percent, the FCPO website says.

740460_354217591351768_1007974035_o-lzgduy“If you have the scriptures behind you and you have a firm foundation, then you know that lost people are acting like lost people,” Lee says. “Today we have lost people and lost cops out on the streets clashing and acting like lost people while Satan claps his hands together with glee.”

The FCPO’s 250 local chapters reach out to the nation’s 1.1 million local, state and national enforcement officers with the Gospel from a perspective that cops can understand.

p5110042-rpxqbfLee accepted Jesus into his heart in 1995 — after 17 years of handling the stress of police work in his own strength. He immediately joined the Chattanooga chapter of FCPO and was hooked to their Bible studies and discipleship support group.

“Once I realized I had this whole new family that loved me, I was sold,” Lee says. “We began to read scriptures and learn to apply the scripture on the streets, which was a challenge. If you’re not reading the Bible, you don’t know what to do.”

Many officers don’t have the advantage of growing up in a Christian home, Lee says.

Raised in church, Lee left God and began working in law enforcement. After years of apprehending criminals and witnessing unimaginable monstrosities on the cruel streets, Lee descended into an abyss of anger, distrustful cynicism and heavy drinking.

He divorced his wife.

“Being a police officer and seeing all the evil and trying to deal with that evil in my own strength, I had become calloused,” he remembers. “I felt nothing. I hated everybody. Nobody told you the truth.”

When his mother died, he thought over his life. In the shower before her funeral, Lee remembered her dedication to Christ and reflected on his own prodigality.

“I knew the life I was living was totally wrong. I had faulted God for 20 years. But the death of my mother totally broke me and brought me to the lowest point in my life.” Lee says. “My life was passing before my eyes like a bad B-movie. I was crying uncontrollably.”

In the shower, Lee said three things to the Lord: “I give up. I surrender. and continue reading about Police PSTD and Jesus.

Zabbai just used God until he felt His warm love

73523542_2456959294358186_3860788287543181312_oZabbai says he “pimped out” God.

In the modern usage of the word, “to pimp” means more than just running a prostitution operation. It means to use something only for your personal benefit.

Whatever linguistic evolution has done to water down the word “pimp,” its usage by Christian rapper Zabbai is still a startling self criticism of his life as a pastor’s kid.

I lived life as a phony Christian
Livin’ in sin knowing I could ask forgiveness
Sick how I manipulated your heart
Pimpin’ you out, treatin’ you just like a broad.

artist_781974-1548001580At 17, Bradsley Rumble came to terms with the Jesus he avoided in his youth while he was smoking marijuana and “flexing” to get girls.

“It was then (I) realized that truth is not a thing but a person,” he says.

Born of Jamaican culture into a Christian family in Connecticut, Bradsley, who now goes by a stage name, struggled with fitting in with his peers instead of standing out as a church goody-goody.

Beginning in the 9th grade, he practiced hip hop. When he came to Jesus, he ditched the sin and donned the rap. He adopted the name Zabbai from the Old Testament, which he says means “wanderer, pure, flowing.” Read the rest: Zabbai Christian rap artist

Hyper Fenton’s eruption on CHH

_500W_500HWhen Seth Jacon Fenton searched for a stage name, he had only to think what afflicted him in grade school and what led to innumerable suspensions.

“Hyper” was the name he chose, which he uses with his last name.

Hyper Fenton’s unique mixture of hip hop and electronic music erupted on CHH in 2016. The Dallas native may be “Chilling in Dallas” (the name of what is perhaps his most popular song), but he hasn’t chilled about much. He’s been hyperactive since childhood.

Naturally, one gig is not enough for a man of boundless energy. He is the minister of preschool and children at his father’s church, Meadows Baptist Church, in Plano, Texas, immediately north of Dallas.

image-asset

No doubt, he’s a hyper snowboarder. Pictured with his wife. Is she hyper too?

He’s also an actor. In fact, he studied acting in college, acted in plays throughout school, and “acted up” in the classroom. “Whether on stage or in the principal’s office, Seth was full of passion, hyperactive, explosive, many times impulsive,” his website says. “Seth had a yearning, a longing to dream, perform and to express himself.”

It was also in college that he fell in love with hip hop. When Moflo Music Production’s owner heard a song randomly from Hyper Fenton, he approached him about working together. The results: numerous singles and three albums — Kindergarten Dreams, Terabithia and Remembering Me.

The 27-year-old grew up in his dad’s church and accepted Jesus into his heart at age six. He loved Jesus but was drawn intensely to performing arts.

“It seemed that with Seth there were two things at war within him, a desire to Love and serve Jesus Christ, the God who saved him, and a desire to express himself through art and creativity,” his website says. Read the rest: Hyper Fenton Christian rap.

The cancer-surviving miracle baby Gideon Thompson

Gideon ThompsonAfter the Thompsons’ first baby, they spent 10 years trying to get pregnant again, then decided to become foster parents. After a decade they were shocked and surprised when Jenny Thompson got pregnant again.

“We tried for years to have another child,” Tony Thompson told CBN. “For some reason we just never could conceive again. We got very, very heartbroken and decided to become certified foster parents.”

As foster parents living in Chesapeake Bay, they adopted a teenager and a son, Alexander.

Then Jenny got pregnant.

Gideon Thompson cancer“We had prayed for 10 years and Gideon West was just a huge answer to prayer,” Jenny said.

Over lunch at Gideon’s first birthday, Tony reached over to straighten the tyke’s head. He shrieked in pain.

A visit with the pediatrician led to a referral to the hospital. After a CT scan, doctors determined he needed surgery immediately to remove a brain tumor.

It was staggering news.

“Our world just stopped,” Jenny says. She called friends, family and church to pray.

Tony ThompsonThe surgery lasted nine-and-a-half hours.

“We felt so helpless,” Jenny says. “Directly after the surgery, his body was failing. He was on medication. He had tears coming down his face. My heart just broke into pieces.”

She cried and cried to God, who gave her a vision of Gideon playing joyfully with angels.

“It was perfect peace,” Jenny recounted. “From that moment on I knew that no matter what the outcome was going to be God had our baby.”

In other words, even if he died, he would be in Heaven.

Gideon remained in ICU for 30 days.

The tumor was examined in pathology. It was cancerous.

“How do you even fathom that your child has cancer?” Tony said. “The question was, God, why would you bless us with this child just to take him away from us? What did we do so wrong?”

Even though the outlook was bleak, Tony and Jenny determined to pray and believe. They held on to hope.

As “a way of coping,” the couple launched a Facebook page “Prayer for Gideon” that quickly went viral. Gideon’s progress was constantly updated, as were specific prayer requests.

“After 30 days in the ICU, Gideon just turned a corner,” Jenny says. “And he started chemotherapy.” Read the rest: after a miracle of conceiving out of infertility, the Thompsons faced brain cancer in their baby Gideon.

Supermodel Kathy Ireland’s journey to Christ

Ireland_CAASpeakers_Photo1God was a yeller, or so Kathy Ireland thought.

At the church she grew up in, the pastor preached a screechy, judgmental message and she superimposed the image of her pastor on God. She thought that God must be like that.

“There was a part of me that was kind of scared of God,” Ireland says on an I am Second video. “The church that I attended as a child, the leader there would kind of yell.”

She jumped into modeling at age 16 and was featured in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Forbes, Mademoiselle and the racy Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition multiple times.

Ireland flew off to Paris to start modeling at age18. “It sounds so much more glamorous than it was,” she admits.

Her mother, who had accepted Jesus when Ireland was a teen, slipped a Bible in her luggage. She didn’t feel comfortable staying at a home provided in Paris. She often locked herself in her room, and other models who stayed there ominously called it “the dungeon.”

kathy-ireland-business-mogulOne night, lonely, bored, jet-lagged, Ireland found the Bible and began to thumb through its pages, a novelty for her.

“I randomly opened up to the Gospel of Matthew,” Ireland says. “As I read, my life was forever changed.”

Ireland had been a rebellious teenager who questioned authority. She wondered about truth and what was right and wrong.

When she examined the Bible for the first time, she realized it contained the truth.

“I think one of the things that grabbed a hold of me was that Jesus wasn’t anything like I thought,” Ireland continues. “He wasn’t condemning. He wasn’t yelling. Instead, He was loving, and He was leading.”

Ireland discovered that modeling is a world flush with exploitation. “Particularly as a young woman out in the world for the first time, in a world that often times felt dominated by men of questionable character, it gave me such comfort to know that Jesus loves women and honors them,” she says. Read the rest: Kathy Ireland Christian.

Owners of Forever 21 proclaim Jesus

Forever-21+(1)Nothing is forever except Heaven, as the owners of Forever 21 are discovering.

After trail-blazing fast fashion for three decades, Do Won and Jin Chang’s clothing stores made them billionaires but are now in the throes of bankruptcy.

The couple is strong in faith and their brand proudly prints “John 3:16” on the bottom of every bag as a witness for Christ. But now the chain is struggling for its economic existence.

merlin_162717138_d7d472aa-d124-46e0-b194-205896595cbd-superJumboDo Won, or simply “Don,” immigrated to America in 1981 because opportunities in South Korea were limited. Ambitious and willing to work hard, Chang immediately got three jobs in Los Angeles: dish washer at a coffee shop, janitor at office buildings and attendant at a gas station.

While pumping gas, BMWs and Mercedes Benzes caught his eye. “I noticed the people who drove the nicest cars were all in the garment business,” Don told the Los Angeles Times.

He and his wife, Jin Sook, opened their first store in 1984 in a Highland Park neighborhood of LA with the strategy of piling high and selling cheap.

Making it in the fashion industry is about as tough as succeeding as an artist or a movie star, but the Changs perfected the technique of making the latest red carpet outfits show up instantly on their shelves, and their business exploded to 800 stores in 50 countries with $4 billion in annual sales.

“I came here with almost nothing and I’ll always have a grateful heart toward America for the opportunities that it’s provided me,” he said in Forbes.

While they succeeded wildly and moved into Beverly Hills, the couple — with their two daughters — remained steadfast in their Christian convictions. They prayed everyday at 5:00 a.m. at their church and went on mission trips to Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Read the rest Christian Forever 21.

Transformed by glory from gay lifestyle

ECJym7ZXoAEZ4KJBy Laken Wilson —

Becket Cook lived a dream life as a set designer in the fashion world. Flaunting an openly gay lifestyle, he swam in Drew Barrymore’s pool and vacationed in Diane Keaton’s vacation home.

But the luster lost its shine at one party: “I can’t do this anymore,” he realized.

In his book Change Of Affection, Beckett documents his identity transformation, as well as a peace and freedom previously unimaginable.

Becket’s demise into homosexuality began when he was 10 at a sleepover with a friend in Texas where he grew up. The friend’s dad molested him at midnight.

becketcook2-8b38574“It was very shocking and scary, and I had this image in my mind that if I didn’t allow him to do what he was doing, I had a picture of him with a knife,” Becket recalls on a 700 Club video. “He was going to stab me or kill me.”

The molester came back three times during the night.

“I did not tell my parents because I knew my father probably would of had him killed,” he said. “I didn’t want my father going to prison over this.” He was the youngest of eight and didn’t want his siblings to be fatherless.

“Also I didn’t want people to know,” he says. “It was a shameful experience.”

gay no moreSo he locked up the horrors in the safe deposit box of his heart.

“Living as a gay man, I never really thought that affected me,” Becket said. “I didn’t want my identity as a gay man to tied to such a scary, weird, gross night. After I became a Christian, I realized, that night had a huge impact on my sexuality. It cemented it.”

He was popular in high school with the girls and went to dances, but when he got older, he had gay bestfriends and went to gay bars and explored the gay life.

“I kind of felt like this was home for me, these are my people. But it wasn’t until after college when I had my first relationship with a guy,” Becket says. “We fell in love and that is when homosexuality as my identity was known.”

He “came out to his parents and family.

His parents were Christians and believed it was a sin, but they were very loving about it. His father asked him if he did anything wrong and if he was angry towards him about anything.

“No dad, I’m fine,” Becket responded. “This who I am, and it’s not your fault.”

Over the years in LA, he went through five serious relationships.

He was at Paris Fashion Week March 2009 at an after-party when he looked over the crowd and remembered asking himself: “This is not it. This is not the meaning of life. What am I going to do for the rest of my life?”

He went to a coffee shop where he came across people with Bibles, and he and his best friend ended up having a conversation with them.

They invited him to their church the next week. Becket asked them what they believed in about homosexuality. They replied it was a sin. Becket ended up going to the church the following Sunday, and while he was listening to the sermon everything was resonating as truth to him and heart.

“I was processing the sermon and worship music, and all of a sudden the Holy Spirit just overwhelmed me.” he remembers. “God was like, I’m God, Jesus is my son, Heaven is real, Hell’s real, the Bible is true and you are now adopted into my kingdom. Welcome.”

Becket started bawling and was able to see the truth for the first time in his life — and the new meaning of life for the first time. He knew in that moment that that was no longer the gay man he used to be.

“The curtains just parted,” Becket said. “I knew instantly in that moment that this was no longer who I was. Being gay was not who I was. It was over. I was done with it.”

Laken Wilson is my student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica and wrote this for extra credit in literature class.